Mark Lewis – Saxophones and Flute

Mark Lewis at Jazz in the Hills

January 16th 2015 features Mark Lewis, who “Jazz After Hours” radio host Jim Wilke calls “a Northwest treasure.” Rotterdam bassist James Long says, “Time after I have been witness to his ability to touch and move the listener in a way that is seldom seen.”

“You listen to the guys with the primo recording contracts, on the very top labels, and in my opinion, they’re not in Mark’s league” says jazz critic and author of “The History of Jazz,” Ted Gioia.

Seattle area saxophone and flute master Mark Lewis in known for his endless creativity, exceptional lyricism, compelling tone and ability to play across a wide range of styles. Mark grew up in the Northwest then moved to the Netherlands for many years to perform, teach and record music. He also lived n San Francisco and recorded a top 40 jazz album after auditioning for Stan Getz to land a record deal. He often subbed for Stan Getz and John Handy during his time in San Francisco.

He is a prolific composer, with over 1,600 songs to his name. He’s also an accomplished recording engineer, and has recorded and produced albums for a number of great jazz musicians, including the last album recorded by legendary jazz drummer Philly Joe Jones.

Mark has performed and recorded with a number of well-known jazz musicians including pianists Mark Levine and Barney McClure; drummers Candy Finch and Eddie Moore; bassists David Friesen, Larry Grenadier and Chuck Metcalf; saxophonists Johnny Griffin and Noah Howard; trumpet player Randy Brecker; and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.

Mike Vax Quartet

Mike Vax at Jazz in the Hills

October features internationally renowned trumpeter and Summit Records recording artist Mike Vax. Mike has played lead and solo trumpet with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Clark Terry Big Bad Band, and the U.S. Navy Show Band. Currently Mike is leading his own groups: Stan Kenton Alumni Band directed by Mike Vax, The Mike Vax Big Band , TRPTS (Trumpets), The Great American Jazz Band, and the Mike Vax Quartet, Quintet and Sextet and does over 100 shows every year all over the world! Mike has performed workshops and concerts in over 2500 high schools, colleges and universities all around the world, over the past 40 years. He is very active as a clinician and soloist in both the classical and jazz idioms.

Jim Cooper

Jim Cooper at Jazz in the Hills“When the mallets are in the hands of the exceptionally talented Jim Cooper, it’s an extraordinary and inspired performance vs. the mere ordinary! A wonderful diversion from the standard jazz trio fare, the vibraphone added a rich, yet ethereal nuance to a fine evening of “mallet” jazz! ”                       – Grand Rapids Jazz Society Newsletter
This November, Jim Cooper comes in from the Chicago area for this special event!  Jazz in the Hills supports music education in local schools – this evening supports the Desert Mountain High School Jazz Combo – performing between sets. 

Live, from New York, it’s John Tendy

John Tendy at Jazz in the Hills
Our special guest this December is New York City saxophonist John Tendy performing with Jack Radavich’s trio.

Jazz saxophonist/clarinetist and audio engineer John Tendy has teamed up with NYCs best independent jazz musicians to create a production pool called IndexJazz. Members include John Tendy, Jerry Weldon, Joe Magnarelli, John Hart, Kyle Koehler, Akiko Tsuruga, Rudy Petschauer, Jerry Sokolov, Mike Hall, Jim Mola, Steve Johns and more. John performs nightly on gigs that range from small jazz venues to authentic Jewish music to Broadway, and spends his days as a jazz engineer and producer.

Anyone who says “a jack of all trades is a master of none” hasn’t met John Tendy. By 16-yrs-old John was already gigging full-time and spent most of his 19th and 20th year performing on cruise ships. Although John was primarily interested in jazz and spent most of his time transcribing and studying the improvisations of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Michael Brecker, he also saw there were other areas of the music biz he needed to explore.

Dmitri Matheny

Dmitri Matheny at Jazz in the Hills

February features Dmitri Matheny. Celebrated for his warm tone, soaring lyricism and masterful technique, American musician DMITRI MATHENY is lauded as “the first breakthrough flugelhornist since Chuck Mangione” (San Jose Mercury News). First introduced to jazz audiences in the 1990s as the protégé of Art Farmer, Matheny has matured into “one of the jazz world’s most talented horn players” (San Francisco Chronicle). An honors graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and the Berklee College of Music, Dmitri has toured extensively as a soloist and bandleader throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has performed with a “who’s who” of jazz luminaries and has contributed to over 60 compact discs as a composer, arranger, producer, annotator or flugelhornist. Dmitri has released nine critically-acclaimed albums as a leader: Red Reflections (1995), Penumbra (1996), Starlight Café (1998), Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag (2000), Nocturne (2005), The SnowCat (2006), Spiritu Sancto (2007), Best of Dmitri Matheny (2008) and Grant & Matheny (2010). He currently performs with Grant & Matheny, a chamber jazz duo directed by Portland, Oregon-based pianist Darrell Grant, and the Dmitri Matheny Group, “an all-star jazz band featuring some of the most accomplished musicians in the western United States” (All About Jazz).


Pete Pancrazi

Pete Pancrazi @Jazz in the Hills

Pete Pancrazi was named by Downbeat Magazine as “one to watch” and a guitar player “deserving greater attention” is no surprise to those who have heard him perform. Pete graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor of music degree in jazz performance.

Pete has been “one to watch” in the Phoenix area since taking up residence here in 1990. Through the years, he has cultivated a large and loyal following. Audiences enjoy his nimble guitar work and warm vocals in settings ranging from solo performances at venues in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area to the complexity of his quartet at the Desert Botanical Gardens jazz series. Pete continues to delight audiences with a growing repertoire of original compositions, presented in performance alongside straight-ahead and Latin jazz sounds. He has released four CDs to date and looks forward to his next recording project.

In addition to being a popular performer, Pete is also a sought-after private teacher and clinician. He’s been an artist roster member for the Arizona Commission on the Arts for 10 years and is currently on staff at Mesa Community College, where he teaches jazz theory, jazz combo and guitar.

Pete Pancrazi: Guitar and Vocals
Sean Brogan: Bass
Dave Ihlenfeld: Keys

Floote Prints

Floote Prints

Since their very first performance at Jazz In The Hills, Floote Prints has continued to play for enthusiastic audiences throughout the valley. Rarely has the sound of two flutes been heard in jazz since recordings by Joe Farrell and Sam Most more than 25 years ago. Created by flutists Joe Corral and Mike Crotty, Floote Prints revisits music introduced by some of the legendary jazz flutists of the past such as Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Joe Farrell, James Moody, and Paul Horn.

The combination of flute, and some less commonly heard instruments including alto flute, bass flute and piccolo with rhythm section create unique textures, which often are used as a framework to feature the fiery energy of Armand Boatman’s piano and Ryan Anthony’s drums and the sensitive lines of Tom Williams’ bass. This is a unique and talented ensemble of lifelong professionals and you can hear them right here at Jazz in the Hills.

Sit back and enjoy the distinctive Floote Prints flow as the band weaves through tunes such as Ben Tucker’s “Comin’ Home Baby”, recorded by Herbie Mann, “Morning Star”, the title cut from one of Hubert Laws’ greatest albums and “Let’s Go Dancing”, a Victor Feldman tune recorded by Joe Farrell. In addition Floote Prints features compositions by Mike Crotty and arrangements by Armand Boatman.

Cleo Corcoran at Kimmies

Jazz in the Hills ended its fall 2013 season with a performance by Cleo Corcoran’s group Bossa Brazil.

Cleo is known for her Astrud Gilberto style and vocals in her native Portuguese.  The band featured Peruvian guitartist, Simon Ames. Another Rio native, Miro De Sa, played Tambora and percussion. Frank Smith’s Flute and Sax completed the quartet.

For those familiar with Bossa Nova and Brazilian Samba music, you could simply wait for your favorite tune and you heard it in this performance; all with the gentle, swaying style you would hope for.

Cleo Corcoran

Cleo Corcoran

Singer Cleo Corcoran, originally from Rio de Janeiro, has a great love of bossa nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Her influences include Astrud Gilberto, Elis Regina, and Gal Costa. Cleo is backed by some of Phoenix’s finest bossa nova musicians with a repertoire that includes all the classic as well as some more obscure musical gems.

Bossa Brazil is:
Cleo Corcoran vocals
Simon Ames vocals and acoustic guitar
Frank Smith flute/sax
Jose DePontes percussion

Nicole Pesce

In February 2015, get prepared to be amazed. Jazz in the Hills will feature the incomparable Nicole Pesce’s Quartet. Nicole was a child prodigy who, at age 11, began composing music, and at 14 appeared on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon which aired to over sixty million viewers. An extensive tour of the US with Jerry followed that. And while in Las Vegas Nicole had the pleasure of performing with Debbie Reynolds at her hotel and Casino. Numerous performances followed for celebrities like Rich Little, Buddy Grecko, Pat Boone, Barbara Stanwyck and Nat King Cole’s younger brother Ike Cole.

Nicole Pesce’s main teacher was her dad, Nick Pesce, a Valley pianist who raised his prodigious daughter to embrace all kinds of music and admire only the finest musicians. Nicoles keyboard role models reflect her dads high standards. In jazz, they are Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum and George Shearing. Kenneth LaFave – Phoenix Magazine

Nicole Pesce makes a lot of stuff sound cool — which is one of the reasons she’s attracted an ever-growing fan following…and why they return so often to hear her take on everything from Tchaikovsky to Billy Joel.
New Times: You do realize you have a cult following, don’t you?

Nicole Pesce: There do seem to be a lot of folks who come in on a regular basis to hear me play. It’s really amazing. I find it hard to believe.

NT: Now, when you were 14, you were playing for Debbie Reynolds at her hotel in Vegas. After which, you toured with Jerry Lewis.

Pesce: Yes, it was a great opportunity. We toured all over the country with a 16-piece orchestra. I was around 14 then, and found it amazing to perform with such a legend.

NT: …So, tell me the truth: You’re playing music while people are eating and talking. Do you ever just want to stand up and shout, “Listen to me!!”?

Pesce: When I’m playing, I try to feel the room out, and try to figure out what the crowd is up for. Sometimes I’m just playing ambient music, and other times I’m doing a show. Later in the evening, it’s more about my performing.
Robert Pela – The New Times