Fans of straight-ahead and funky urban jazz don’t always get to share lawn and seat space at major all-star events, but thanks to JEMROCK Productions, they will have the opportunity to mingle their passions at the highly anticipated first annual Firebird Music Festival, scheduled for Sunday, September 23 at WestWorld of Scottsdale, the Phoenix-Scottsdale, AZ region’s premier event venue.
Embracing music lovers of all kinds and providing them with the atmosphere to connect the legendary artists who inspire them, Firebird is aiming high from the get-go, with many Grammy Award winners and nominees as headliners. The roster includes Jeffrey Osborne, Earl Klugh featuring Bob James, Rick Braun, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jazz Funk Soul, the trio of keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and saxophonist Everette Harp.
The Firebird Music Festival also marks the auspicious launch of Harp’s new production company, JEM Productions. Also on board the production team are Randy Jackson (of “American Idol” fame), who will also be the host of the festival; and Eddie Wenrick, President of Wenrick Birtcher Entertainment and Media Company. It is presented by BLOCKTIX, a prominent Phoenix area event and ticketing company.
Jackson commented, “This will be an exciting launch for the annual Firebird Music Festival, which will bring a premiere group of top jazz and R&B talents to the Scottsdale area.”
In addition to some of the R&B and contemporary jazz world’s premiere headliners, Firebird Music Festival will feature interactive, cutting edge technology, creative freedom for artists, unique experiences and amazing sounds and visuals. Set to run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., the event will be set against the picturesque red skies of southern Arizona. It is the only large scale music fest in the popular vacation city of Scottsdale, making it a truly desirable destination for music fans around the world.
According to Harp, a core urban/smooth jazz artist since the early 90s who has lived in Scottsdale for the past four years, one of the reasons there hasn’t been a major festival in the area for years is the lack of a terrestrial smooth jazz radio station to sponsor and advertise. Harp and his team are tackling those hurdles by advertising to the large urban jazz demographic on Mega 104.3 (KAJM-FM), billed as “Arizona’s Old School,” playing “Old School and Today’s Best.” Harp says, “I have always said, the smooth jazz audiences are the disenfranchised R&B audiences.” They are also putting ads on NPR’s late night jazz program as well as local television stations. While their target areas range from Tucson to Sedona and Flagstaff, the festival is truly envisioned as one that has the potential to attract fans from across the U.S. and overseas as a premiere destination event.
Harp’s vision for the Firebird Music Festival was sparked by a conversation he had with his longtime friend and golf partner, who is the owner of BLOCKTIX. His friend asked if he would ever be interested in putting on a jazz festival in Scottsdale. Harp loves his adopted hometown and had been frustrated that there hadn’t been a jazz-oriented event of this magnitude in the city for many years. Jackson, also a renowned bassist and producer whom Harp met 20 years ago when the two worked on a Kenny Loggins album, was the saxophonist’s first choice to help him with the promotion aspects of the event, and Jackson in turned reached out to Wenrick as a consultant to handle other logistical elements.
Harp says of their company JEMROCK Productions, “With the Firebird Music Festival and other events we plan to put on, we are trying to get our name out there and make it synonymous in the minds of passionate music lover with reputable, dependable concerts and events. What we want is for artists to have a great time playing for wonderful fans from all over the state and beyond.”
Lawn seats start at $45. Reserved seats range between $55-85, and box seats are $150. Lawn chairs can be brought in or rented for an additional $5.
For more information, please visit www.firebirdmusicfestival.com.
Please note: Artists are listed in reverse order from their appearance at the festival, which opens with Jazz Funk Soul and concludes with Jeffrey Osborne.
JEFFREY OSBORNE possesses one of the richest and most uplifting voices in R&B since the early ‘70s. Jeffrey has also been the recipient of four Grammy nominations, as well as numerous Top Ten hits. With songs like “Stay With Me Tonight,” “On The Wings Of Love,” “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)” and many others, Jeffrey has is one of the most recognizable hit makers pop music. With the loss of traditional R&B radio, contemporary jazz audiences have been embracing the inclusion of quite a few notable R&B stars in their festivals. Recognizing the merging demographic Firebird Music Festival will continue this trend to delight audiences with the best artists from the R&B genre.
EARL KLUGH featuring BOB JAMES are two of the most revered names in all of contemporary jazz with accolades too numerous to mention. Both multi-Grammy Award winners, Earl Klugh created a place for the acoustic guitar in contemporary jazz music with a style of songwriting and playing that has become one of the most endearing and imitated sounds on his instrument. Bob James is known for his songwriting style and technique on the piano that sets him apart from others over the last 40 years. He has produced and recorded many gold and platinum CDs, as well as theme songs for hit television shows, most notably his iconic “Theme from Taxi”. Klugh and James will perform a wonderful set of music from their two recordings together at the Firebird Music Festival.
RICK BRAUN is an internationally renowned contemporary jazz trumpeter who is one of the most popular and hardest working instrumentalists in the “Smooth Jazz” genre. With over 15 solo recordings and countless #1 singles, he has become a force to be reckoned with for both his artistry and showmanship.
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER is a world renowned Grammy-winning jazz and soul vocalist who has enjoyed a wonderfully eclectic musical recording career. Singing everything from Ella Fitzgerald and big band music to Memphis soul, she brings her 10 piece band to Firebird as part of her explosive Memphis Soulphony tour.
JAZZ FUNK SOUL features three celebrated R&B/jazz musicians with individual long, rich histories in the contemporary jazz world. Since joining forces five years ago, they have released two Grammy nominated CDs. Jeff Lorber is a Grammy-award winning, multi-talented keyboardist, songwriter, and producer who has led his band The Jeff Lorber Fusion Group since the late 1970’s. He’s had a string of jazz, pop, and R&B hits over the past four decades. Paul Jackson Jr. is one of the most recorded guitarists in music history having played with Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Daft Punk, Donna Summers, Barry Manilow, Al Jarreau, George Benson, David Sanborn, Bette Midler, Janet Jackson, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Babyface, Smokey Robinson, and many others. He has eight solo albums. Everette Harp is a Grammy nominated, multi #1 jazz single saxophonist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He has played and recorded with many artists since the late 80’s including, Kenny Loggins, Billy Joel, Luther Vandross, Sheena Easton, Anita Baker, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, and many more. He has 11 solo albums to his credit.
RANDY JACKSON, multi-talented Grammy-award winner and longtime judge on the original incarnation of “American Idol,” is your host for an afternoon of R&B and smooth jazz. Randy is a bassist, singer, record producer, entrepreneur, and television personality. He began his career as a session musician playing bass for an array of jazz, pop, rock and R&B performers. He moved on to work in music production, A&R at Columbia Records and MCA Records and in television.