By Shay Moser
Photos courtesy of High Street
It’s “the place to find your fun,” according to High Street’s website. While the outdoor entertainment district in north Phoenix offers specialty salons, fashion boutiques, trendy bars, and gourmet restaurants for visitors’ enjoyment, it often transforms its grounds to host concerts and car shows. This spring, it will host a festival.
High Street will welcome the Arizona Jazz Fest for the second year this month. Expected to attract 7,500 music aficionados, the festival will set the stage for more than 20 national acts on Friday, March 24, through Sun., March 26. The three-day event will showcase renowned R&B and jazz talent from all over the world.
“We have some of the best musicians in the world on stage in one weekend, and everybody comes for the love of music,” says the Arizona Jazz Festival organizer Brad Laughlin.
Laughlin says the Arizona Jazz festival has come to the Valley for over 30 years, though it’s moved around.
“This past October, the Arizona Jazz Fest on High Street assembled a stellar collection of talent that attracted thousands. Somehow, the show producers managed to outdo themselves with even more marquee names for the spring edition of the fest,” says Bryan Laurel of High Street Marketing.
A Look at the Music Lineup
The star-studded lineup includes 17-time Grammy-nominated Anthony Hamilton, who is taking the stage as the headliner Fri., March 24. The American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer rose to fame with his platinum-selling second studio album “Comin’ from Where I’m From” (2003), which featured the title track single “Comin’ from Where I’m From” and the follow-up “Charlene.” His album “Love Is the New Black” (2021) includes one of his new releases featuring Rick Ross titled “Real Love,” which is making big waves.
“The Arizona Jazz Festival prides itself on highlighting national acts that showcase the genre’s best modern talent over three exciting days,” says Laughlin. “Bringing together these world-class R&B and jazz artists allows festival goers to experience the music at its finest — a collaboration between artists with history, experience, and a style all their own.”
Also scheduled to perform on Friday at the festival are Eric Darius, Rebecca Jade, LeVelle, and Vincent Ingala.
Headlining Saturday is Morris Day and the Time, a group assembled by Prince and fronted by Day since 1981. Following Day’s performance on Saturday are Jonathan Butler, Wendy Moten, Michael Lington, Julian Vaughn, Marcus Anderson, Adam Hawley, Lao Tizer, Chieli Minucci, Elliott Yamin, Eric Marienthal, Karen Briggs, and Jeff Bradshaw.
Closing out the festival on Sun., March 26, headlining will be Stephanie Mills, who first came to fame as the young girl that played Dorothy in the hit Broadway play “The Wiz.” She later had five R&B hits, one million-selling single, and five gold albums.
Musiq Soulchild, whose off-stage name is Taalib Johnson, is another R&B artist closing the event on Sunday. He had six major-label albums, four of which went either gold or platinum in the U.S. and earned 11 Grammy nominations over a decade. Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, Sheila E., Brian Simpson, Kim Waters, Maysa, and Euge Groove will follow.
“This year, we added a little bit more R&B,” says Laughlin. “We have Morris Day and the Time, who performed with Prince, and Sheila E., who also performed with Prince. So, we’ve added a level of R&B to this festival that people are excited about.”
Food, Tickets, and Fun
The festival will have various food and beverage options for attendees all weekend. Beer and wine will be available for purchase, along with multiple food choices.
Official tickets for the Arizona Jazz Festival event on High Street are sold exclusively on azjazzfest.com. Laughlin doesn’t recommend purchasing tickets from third-party resellers like StubHub, Vivid Seats, Seat Geek, Ticketfly, or Craigslist. “We are unable to guarantee or verify the validity of tickets purchased from a third party,” he says.
The festival entry gates are scheduled to open at 3 p.m. on Fri., March 24, and at 11 a.m. on Sat. and Sun., March 25 and 26. Showtime is at 4 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. All shows will conclude at 10 p.m.
“If you want to see some of the best saxophone and guitar players, some of the best musicians and singers out there, this is the place to go,” says Laughlin. “You’re going to be on your feet, partying, dancing, and having a good time. One of the best things about this festival is that you don’t have to be a jazz fan to enjoy it. If you like a good musician, if you like to hear somebody play guitar at the top level of anything, then this would be the festival for you.”
High Street is located north of Loop 101 at the 56th Street exit in North Phoenix, just east of Desert Ridge Marketplace. It’s easily accessible from Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix, and the entire metropolitan area. Rain or shine, the event will take place.
“High Street has evolved into a district of quality businesses and home to best-of-class restaurants and entertainment,” Laurel says. “Over the past several years, we’ve put an emphasis on bringing unique and high-end events to the north Valley to connect with the community and introduce guests to all that High Street has to offer, encouraging repeat visits long after the event is over. We have more events in the works to announce in the coming months.”
This content is sponsored by High Street.