On April 11, 1930, one of the biggest parties the small community of Tucson had ever seen took place for the opening night of the Fox Theatre.

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Fox Theatre and Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance will host an event sure to remind the community of why this historic downtown stage for the arts became the center of Tucson’s entertainment world for 40 years.

Jazz Legends in Concert Live will take audiences on a journey through jazz as world-renowned musicians travel through the timeline of jazz, following its musical evolution from early years to modern day. The concert celebrates the history of jazz music, set in a venue respecting the preservation of past eras of entertainment.  

The Fox Theatre – originally designed as a dual vaudeville/movie house – features a unique 1929 Southwestern Art Deco décor, a main auditorium with center stage and film screen, three lobby spaces, seats for more than 1,000 patrons and cash bars. This concert will mark the first-ever Jazz Legends show in downtown Tucson, accommodating the growth and popularity of the event after about a decade of performances at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort. The Legends will perform again at the Hilton, in addition to the Fox Theatre concert.

The first concert  – on Friday, Sept. 30 at Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort, 10000 N. Oracle Road – offers an up-close private performance with the Jazz Legends with dinner and chance to meet the musicians.

The next night – Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. – the Jazz Legends in Concert Live will venture to Tucson for the first-ever downtown show.  

All the monies raised from this unique event help SAACA continue music and art programs for all ages in the community and schools.

The 2011 Jazz Legends are some of the most respected and talented musicians alive today, encompassing dynamic versatile talent and ability in every genre and era of jazz music as we know it today.

The events also offer the opportunity to experience these talented musicians on stage together for a journey through America’s classical music.

Master classes

Arranged for university and high school students, the Master Classes bring music students face-to-face with these world-renowned musicians.

The two-hour Master Class will be broken up into two sections.

The first class will be with an individual Jazz Legend, with placement based on common instruments.

Students are encouraged to bring their instruments to receive direct instruction from their assigned professional musician.

Concert history

Hosts Al and Marilyn Cook began the Jazz Legends concert series in their backyard 12 years ago, as a fundraiser for the Arts Council.

“The first party was in our home,” Al Cook said. The star was famous Hollywood jazz clarinetist, Abe Most, Cook said.

“It attracted 40 people, and it was rained out,” Cook said. Despite the weather, the show went on inside Cook’s home and was a huge success, introducing the annual series of jazz concerts that have followed.

Three years later, the Cook’s backyard concert grew to 180 people and, since the concert required more space than their yard would allow, was moved to the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort for the years following. The popular jazz concert has attracted larger audiences each year.

For tickets and more information call 797-3959, ext. 9, or visit http://www.saaca.org/events-jazzlegends.html.

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