“Doc” Jones, Executive Director of International Jazz Day Arizona, has become a legend for the work he has done to preserve and promote jazz in Arizona.
Dr. William “Doc” Jones, who has been a champion for jazz, education, and homeless musicians, is a legend himself.
— Dr. William “Doc” Jones
PHOENIX, ARIZONA, US, April 6, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — Dr. William “Doc” Jones has played with Rhythm & Blues legends like The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and his favorites—“Pops” Staples and the Staples Singers. But this Chicago native is destined to be remembered as a legend, himself, for his efforts to help jazz and jazz musicians on and off the stage.
Jones moved to Arizona in 1986. Longtime Phoenicians probably remember Doc’s Place, a popular gathering place for jazz lovers, which was at Camelback Road and Central Ave for years. But through the years, long before the pandemic, live music clubs had started to die out and more young people hoped to become the next Drake than the next Coltrane. Jones started to dedicate his life to trying to educate people, especially young people, about and to preserve this uniquely American art form.
In 2012, Herbie Hancock created International Jazz Day in New Orleans, and inspired, then encouraged Jones to do likewise in Phoenix. Jones organized the first International Jazz Day at CityScape in downtown Phoenix in 2013, which was attended by a few hundred people. By 2019, 10 current and former Arizona mayors had issued supporting proclamations and PSAs for the annual event. Today Hancock-inspired jazz day events are celebrated in 196 countries.
The pandemic not only disrupted Jazz Day and entertainment throughout Phoenix, but the combination of no live performances and escalating rent and home prices threw many musicians out of work and into homelessness.
“My mission,” says Jones, “Is now to unite the State of Arizona in bringing attention to arts, education, and affordable housing for jazz and blues musicians.”
Jones was inspired by the ArtSpace.org effort, which is “ America’s leading nonprofit real estate developer of live/work artist housing, artist studios, arts centers, and arts-friendly businesses.” Jones will similarly use money raised by his events and help of other community leaders for Jazz Town.
Jones’ personal life and story appear as inspiring as his music. He has been married to his wife Shirley for 54 years. He has four children— Denine, Nailah, Brittany, Nayo, and William, who live around the country, and two of which have followed him into the entertainment industry. Few people know that most of Jones’ early life was spent dancing, but he loved playing music more than dancing to it. His son Bill, though, is a professional choreographer and dancer in Chicago. Meanwhile, Nayo (www.nayojones.com), a Spellman alumna who lives in New Orleans, left a promising career in financial management to successfully record five albums.
In 2019, State law HCR 2017, a concurrent resolution declared April as Jazz Appreciation Month and April 30 as International Jazz Day in Arizona. On Friday, April 8, three mayors (Tempe’s Corey Woods, Scottdale’s David Ortega, and Paradise Valley’s Jerry Bien-Willner), who have formed the Jazz Day Coalition, will kick off the month at the Tempe Center for the Arts. On April 20, the State Capitol will be a site of music and celebration as Jones accepts proclamations from the various cities. On April 29, the Westin Kierland will host the Kierland After Dark – Scottsdale Jazz Festival Premiere
Finally, on April 30, the 11th Scottsdale International Jazz Day (www.scottsdalejazzfest.org) will be at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts from 3-10 PM. Doc Jones has brought Arizonan and Mexican (e.g., Sonora) cities, private businesses (e.g., Molina Jewelers), media (e.g., Arizona Informant), and non-profits (e.g., charter schools, International Jazz Day AZ Foundation) together to the benefit of jazz lovers and musicians of all ages.
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