Interview: Doc Jones discusses the sixth annual International Jazz Day

By on March 16, 2017

By Mary Andrews

Dr. William Jones, known as Doc Jones, executive director of International Jazz day AZ foundation, musician and music educator, spoke with AXS about the upcoming jazz day festivities recently. The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation is a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 2015 as a 501-C3 organization.

AXS: What is the mission of the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation?

Doc Jones: The mission is to utilize International Jazz Day and jazz month to produce concerts and events that will bring attention to tourism to our state of Arizona. Funds raised on International Jazz weekend will go to sponsor smaller organizations like NextStudent Academy, Academy of Excellence and the Boy Scouts of America. These organizations have a commitment to develop curriculums that will keep the art of jazz on the minds of our young people. In 2016, we had the honor of co-producing the first festival in Puerto Penasco, Mexico on the southern border of Mexico.

AXS: How did the Governor of Arizona get involved with the International Jazz Day celebration?

DJ: I was at a fundraiser for the governor of Arizona when he was promoting a bill called proposition 123. Its purpose was to put more money into the school system; the education system that he was mandated to do. I asked how much of that money was going to go toward arts education. He said we definitely have money set aside for art education. I asked what about music; specifically jazz? He had not heard about it. As a result of our conversation, Mr. Ducey assigned one of his assistants to research that. That was the beginning of a long-term goal to look at 2016. Eventually, we were able to get Governor Ducey to proclaim April 30th International Jazz Day in Arizona. It came with a 60-second public service announcement called International Jazz Day with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) mission behind that. At the same time, we were able to connect with Mayor Stanton of Phoenix and Congressman Gallego and Senator McCain. The governor has an organization called Arizona – Mexico Commission that has been in existence for 57 years. Governor Ducey and the new governor of Mexico, Claudia Pavlovich Arellano, met and discussed promoting peace and better traveling conditions between Arizona and Mexico. They had a summit in June of 2016 and (they) announced their plan. I became involved and instituted the art of Jazz and the UNESCO International Jazz Day celebration. Both governors liked the plan and now we are going into 2017.

AXS: How have you started to implement that plan?

DJ: Since June, I have gotten support from five Arizona mayors. The mayors, Jim Lane of Scottsdale, Greg Stanton of Phoenix, John Giles of Mesa, Robert Uribe of Douglas, and Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson are involved. So far, four of the five men have helped me set up small events to kick off the 6th Annual Arizona’s International Jazz Day. “Jazz At Lunch Time” will start the chain of events on Wednesday, April 26 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. We are going to erect a stage in front of the state capitol. The state senators, the House of Representatives, the governor, the mayors as well as the general public are invited to come out. This year, we will use the ‘6th Annual International Jazz Day’ to put the eyes of the world, thanks to UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, on the state of Arizona and the good work these people are doing here utilizing the art form of jazz.

AXS: What is the schedule on the weekend of International Jazz Day?

DJ: On April 29, we will be at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts for the Official International Jazz Day AZ Foundation event. Every year we will have an official event in one of these cities. This year, it will be in Scottsdale under the guidance of Mayor Jim Lane. The headliner for the night will be Grammy nominee, Azar Lawrence who took John Coltrane’s place after Mr. Coltrane’s passing. McCoy Tyner invited him in to join the band when he was 20-years old. He has played with McCoy, Miles and many other musicians. We also are honored to announce Arturo O’Farrill, the Cuban-All Star conductor. Mr. O’Farrill has won five Grammy awards including two this year for his project in Cuba called “Cuba, the Conversation Continues.” He will be on the bill with Azar Lawrence. And of course, we have the one and only Nayo Jones, an up and coming star who is blazing the world with her performances. On Sunday, 30 April, we will be at the Mesa Arts Center with headliner, Grammy-nominated Tony Monaco, the jazz organ master. Also, Scott Wittman will be performing with Mr. Monaco along with several local artists. That Sunday is International Jazz Day. We are going to close out this year on Sat May 6th in Phoenix, AZ at the Herberger Theatre where we combine the International Jazz Day with the Phoenix Urban Wine Walk. They will get together to do a ‘pub crawl.’ That is from 5 p.m. till 9 p.m. That will close out the year for us. We are excited about it because we are collaborating with the Boy Scouts of America. We are hoping that this brings attention to the young Boy Scouts as well as jazz. Both are as American as apple pie. Also, we start out the month of April, April 7, 8, and 9th we will be doing the first annual Jazz Day festival. This will take place in Los Alamos, New Mexico with the mayor’s and the governor’s support. We will be back in Puerto Penasco, Mexico on April 21-22 that is the home of a historical spot El Pinacante where volcanoes erupted five million years ago. Last year history was made. It was the first time a jazz band ever played around those craters.

AXS: What is the takeaway message you would like people to get from this conversation?

DJ: In addition to announcing the International Jazz Day festivities, we would like to get the attention of a major sponsor or sponsors that will join us in marketing this ‘6th Annual International Jazz Day’ weekend. Ticket sales only cover a small portion of the cost of the festivities. We are hoping to elevate this where thousands of people will participate in this annual affair.

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