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Jazz in the desert

By Ian Caruth
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 28, 2000
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For an entire week, UA Crowder Performance Hall will host the 23rd annual AZ Jazz Week, featuring performances by UA jazz ensembles and local groups along with some nationally known acts

"In 20 plus years, everybody's been here," said Jeff Haskell, University of Arizona music instructor and organizer of the AZ Jazz Week. "It's America's classical music."

Though it may not be as well attended as other pop-music concerts, Haskell said the AZ Jazz Week will offer a more lasting sort of appeal.

"The students don't realize how many people have been through these doors. Dizzy Gillespie has to go down as one of the (most memorable) performers," he said.

AZ Jazz Week - which began in 1978 - has been a labor of love for Haskell.

"I made a proposal, the music director took it to the dean, and it was just one of those things," he said.

The event was designed not only to provide audiences with a lot of music, but also as an educational experience.

"I wanted to have a festival that brought a lot of focus to jazz here at the university, to the community and to the region," Haskel said. "(I wanted to) have jazz masters come into the classroom and participate with the students in the production of this music."

Still, Haskell said one of the most important aspects of the event is to improve the exposure of jazz throughout the campus.

"We try to feature most of the jazz groups that are in the (music) program at UA," he added.

Although it will be held on campus, Haskell said student attendance will most likely not be as high as that of older audiences.

"The audience depends upon the type of event. For an event like this ("Quite a Day o' Dixie"), we'll probably mostly get a community type of audience, as opposed to students," he said.

Haskell also said he was excited for this week's upcoming performances.

"Monday night we have faculty and guests performing, and then the next three nights are mostly students," he said. "Tuesday night, we have (saxophonist) Howie Smith. He's a musical giant. He's very in-demand as a soloist all over the place, and we're very excited to have him.

"Thursday night is the UA recording studio combo (performance). That'll be the grand finale, the end of the week," he said.

Haskell said he was happy with Sunday's opening performances - especially with The Borderline Seven Dixie "Jass" Band from Nogales High School.

"The Nogales High School group was the real treat this afternoon," he said. "You have to expose this (type of music). What they've done is really fantastic."

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