Friday Night Live at Main Gate Square (April to August)



Friday Night Live! Concert Line-up Announced (press release)

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance and Main Gate Square present a series of free, evening jazz concerts at the Geronimo Plaza, beginning April 4.
A jazz infusion has taken place each summer on University Boulevard for the past few years. This season stages the best pick of jazz performers in the region – from the Spanish guitar serenades of DeGrazia Band to the soulful vocals of Crystal Stark.

Presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance at Main Gate Square, the free performances alternate Fridays at 7 p.m. Coupled with delicious food from nearby local restaurants, the evenings provide a great way to begin the weekend.

“People come to Geronimo Plaza and discover Main Gate is a great place in a lively atmosphere,” said Jane McCollum, Main Gate Square general manager.
Main Gate Square, between Park and Euclid Avenues on University Boulevard, features more than 20 retailers and 30 restaurants near the University of Arizona. Main Gate merchants validate parking for the Tyndall Garage Monday through Friday after 5 p.m. to midnight (all parking fees incurred prior to 5 p.m. are the customer’s responsibility).

“Prior to the concert people should experience all the different flavors of food we have here,” McCollum said, either dining in the restaurants before or after the shows or grabbing food to go and eating during the performance.

Friday Night Live Line-up:

April 4
University of Arizona Jazz Trio
The University of Arizona (UA) Jazz Trio is comprised of members of UA’s elite jazz ensemble/big band: the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble (SJE). The jazz ensemble was founded by Tom Ervin in 1972. Jeff Haskell began conducting the ensemble regularly in 1977. In its ranks have sat some of the finest young musicians in Southern Arizona. In the 1980’s, the band was hired to tour with Dizzy Gillespie, a tour that exposed to the students the great teaching expertise that Dizzy had at his command. Since then, the band has backed up some of the most high-profile and legendary jazz artists of our time including Bill Watrous, Bobby Shew, John Fedchock, Brian Lynch, Chris Potter, Michael Davis, and many more. After the group’s second tour throughout China and other international trips, the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble was recently named winner of the 2013 UA Global Excellence Award.

April 18
Crystal Stark, jazz vocals
Crystal Rose Stark is an award-winning pop/R&B singer who brings a positive influence to today’s music scene. Based on her church-singing roots, she knew that she wanted to pursue a full-time career in music. She made it to the top 44 contestants in American Idol out of the100,000 that tried out across the country. She sang back-up on tour with American Idol runner-up Katharine Mcphee on shows such as Jay Leno, Regis & Kelly and The Today Show. In the summer of 2006, Stark entered the gospel music competition, Music in the Rockies where she won first place Best of Show and was asked to perform at Disney World’s “Night of Joy” alongside Christian artists such as Kirk Franklin, Rebecca St. James and Mercy Me. Stark is currently performing around Tucson playing shows for the Tucson Jazz Society, Big Band Express, and wowing audiences with her jazz/soul/R&B group “The Crystal Stark Quintet.”

May 2
Sylvan Street, jazz
Sylvan Street is a group of seven accomplished musicians – a hip, urban sound taking listeners of all ages on an emotional ride through tribal funk grooves, bittersweet love ballads, jump swing and blues. “Here in America” and “The Perfect Leaf” CDs are available for purchase. Sylvan Street also hosts educational jazz clinics and master classes for high school and collegiate jazz programs nationwide.

May 16
Gigi Burton, jazz vocals
Meet Gigi Burton, a multi-talented professionally trained jazz artist filled with love and the desire to make the world a better place through her attitude, music and artistic abilities. Gigi began singing professionally in a pop band at age 15. That experience enhanced her desire to perform and helped frame her artistic future. She lived and breathed to create, and started attending dance, musical theatre, acting and singing classes whenever possible.

May 30
DeGrazia Band, Spanish guitar
Domingo DeGrazia blends Spanish guitar passion with the flair of flamenco music. His music couples dynamic rhythms with vibrant Latin, salsa and rock drum beats. An Arizona native and raised with the sounds and imagery of the desert Southwest, DeGrazia’s guitar playing has charmed audiences with rhythmic songs, moving from passionate to whimsical and elegant to sorrowful. DeGrazia carries the role of front-man and lead guitar while Grammy nominated artist Jim Pavett brings percussion and live drums. Violinist Beth Daunis brings exotic and soulful violin while Mark Brugler and Aaron Kirk round out the core of the band with bass and rhythm guitar.

June 13
Butch Diggs, jazz sax
Smooth jazz saxophonist, flutist and keyboardist Butch Diggs has worked with Eddie Henderson, Paul Jackson, Jr. Chaka Khan, Joe Henderson, Brian Bromberg, Avant garde drummer Atma Anur and progressive guitarist Craig Easley. He was an original member of the pop/alternative group Question Men in the 1980’s, and his current album “Chapter 1” was co-produced by Steve Diggs. On his first solo release, Diggs provided all instruments – sax, flute, keyboard, drums, Indian flute – and effects as well as the writing and arranging of all songs. With his latest release “Dry Heat,” he enlisted the help of BDizzy (his son, Brandon) on synthesizer, vocal effects and co-writing.

June 27
Jazz Telephone, jazz quartet
Jazz Telephone plays original music rooted in the jazz tradition. The musicians approach the music in a unique way, using pop, rock and country, as well as jazz. Individually, all the members of Jazz Telephone are well-respected members of the downtown rock scene, having won numerous Tammies and toured on a national and international level.

July 11
Reno Del Mar, Latin acoustic duo
Reno del Mar is a dynamic instrumental ensemble performing beautiful, original guitar music in a wide range of styles that include Latin jazz, adult contemporary, Spanish, Western swing, tango, gypsy, flamenco, Mexican, bebop and blues. The influences of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Django Rheinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Ry Cooder, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Duke Ellington, Bob Wills and others permeate Reno del Mar’s compositions and playing styles. The duo is usually two acoustic guitars. Phil Lipman plays an acoustic steel string, while Mark Wilsey plays an acoustic nylon string, Spanish style guitar.

July 25
ForTheLuvvaMusic, piano vocal jazz and Broadway
ForTheLuvvaMusic is the husband and wife team of Mark and Arlette Willis. Arlette is a soprano and Mark accompanies her at the piano and plays harmonica. Arlette and Mark have been performing for hundreds of clients since High School in 1978. They studied voice under Mr. Brazeal Dennard in Detroit and have traveled across the USA, with invitations to Japan and Russia since. Their LuvvaMusic spans many genres including Jazz, Blues, Broadway, Funk, R&B and Soul.

Aug. 8
Nick Stanley, jazz piano
Nick Stanley began playing piano at age 8. Born in Tucson, Stanley was always listening to the greats from a very early age. Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick, Jr., Hank Jones and Nat Cole are among the many influences on his music today. In 2008, he released his debut album, “Introducing Nick Stanley.” He is currently house pianist at Hacienda del Sol Resort and works with George Howard in a duo format regularly. Other venues include Kingfisher, Blue Fin, El Conquistador Resort, Old Pueblo Grille with Pete Swan and Sullivan’s Steakhouse, among others.

Aug. 22
Kelland Thomas, jazz saxophone
Comfortable in a variety of musical genres, Kelland Thomas performs frequently in the Southwest and throughout the United States with the Firecracker Jazz Band, the Original Wildcat Jass Band, Big Band Express and Salsarengue. He has also performed with The Four Tops, Diane Schuur, Manhattan Transfer, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, his performance on the band’s “Poverty Stricken” was selected for the 54th Grammy Awards entry list for Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Thomas received his doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Michigan, and he is currently Associate Professor of Music at the University of Arizona.

Friday Night Live at Main Gate Square
When: Alternating Fridays at 7 p.m.
Where: Geronimo Plaza at Main Gate Square, between Park Avenue and Euclid Avenue on University Boulevard

Cost: Free, parking validated for Tyndall Garage. Street parking is also free after 5 p.m.


Kate Marquez –

Chelsey Killebrew –

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance

(520) 797-3959

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


  1. My first Main Gate concert of the season, listening to sexy Gigi Burton sing lively jazz and some mellow blues on stage, accompanied by her band (trumpet, drums, guitar, keyboards). Check these concerts out for the remainder of the summer, with $25 gift certificate give-a-ways from the merchants. My favorite song tonight, an oldie: “Boy from Ipanema”.

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