Hot Jazz Warms Up Cool Nights in Tucson

This post guest written by CJ Agbannawag

As most of the country is chilly and cold in the middle of the winter, the Old Pueblo heats up and comes alive as people from all around flock to the warmer weather.  Tucson in January boasts new experiences, great food, beautiful scenery, the Gem and Mineral shows, and now - jazz. For the 3rd year in a row, the Tucson Jazz Festival is bringing some of the biggest names in jazz to the Southwest, and the event is gaining traction on a national scale. The Tucson Jazz Festival started in 2015 to to contribute to the lineup of winter events that Tucson is known for and increase tourism while celebrating the community's love of music. The 2017 Tucson Jazz Festival is shaping up to be the biggest and best experience yet.

This year, the Jazz Festival will run from Thursday, January 12th to Sunday, January 22nd. The festival features ten days of headliners such as George Benson and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who have a total of thirteen Grammy awards between them. Other big name performers include Tower of Power, John Pizzarelli, Kamasi Washington, and more.

One of the major highlights of the event is the concert in Downtown Tucson on Martin Luther King Day. The Downtown Jazz Fiesta on Monday, January 16th is an all day downtown celebration of music. There will be two outdoor stages on Fifth Avenue and multiple indoor venues. The best part is that the Jazz Fiesta concerts are free to the public. Downtown Tucson echos with the sounds of saxophones and snares, as thousands party, dance, and enjoy the live music. This event should not be missed.

Although the festival is just entering their third year, organizers expect a large attendance of out of town guests. The festival successfully increased its percentage of out of town attendees from their first year to the second year, and this year expects to continue that trend. The Jazz Music scene is often associated with the nightclubs and concert halls of New York City and Chicago. Last year during the Jazz Festival, the average high temperature in New York City and Chicago was 38°F while audiences and visitors enjoyed Tucson’s 71°F winter. It’s easy to see why musicians might enjoy coming to the Old Pueblo to thaw out their instruments.

Mild winter weather isn’t the only attractive quality for visitors coming out of town for the festival. The Tucson Jazz Festival for all three years has been based in Downtown Tucson, working with local venues and partners such as the Rialto, UA Presents, Fox Theatre, and Club Congress. Downtown Tucson is in the middle of an exciting boom and resurgence of growth and activity. The downtown area is bursting with culture, history, food, and creativity. The Tucson Jazz Festival is bringing hundreds of out of town guests to the downtown area, who might not have otherwise ever visited the area. Local businesses make up a large part of the downtown area’s identity, creating a memorable experience for guests as they are immersed with music and culture. They also benefit from the festival, and thousands of jazz lovers mingle the streets before and after their shows. If you find yourself at one of the shows during the festival, make the whole night an experience with dinner before, or grabbing a cocktail after the show. Tucson’s Small Wonder Map is filled with great small businesses in the same areas where the festival is happening.

If you want to find out more about shows, events, tickets, etc, go to the Tucson Jazz Festival’s website, and immerse yourself in Tucson Jazz experience.