The closing event was a New Orleans-style food and jazz brunch on Sunday, Oct. 13, performed by the Phoenix-based Bad Cactus Brass Band. Several featured spots starred trombonist-vocalist Eddie Chop Chops, a Katrina hurricane refugee who has remained in the Phoenix area. Leader Benjie Messmer pumped out low notes on a sousaphone and Chris Peňa dazzled on piano, with subsequent solos by Elliott Ventimiglia on tenor sax and clarinet, and Dan Blake on trumpet. Drummer Jesse Lee Yarbrough's street-beat tempos prompted a second line parade by some of the 57 brunch patrons. Proceeds from the events will go toward Jazz in AZ educational programs and performances.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.