Its 2020-21 debut is four months late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tempe-based Lakeshore Music is moving forward cautiously with cutting-edge presentation techniques for its recently announced, abbreviated six-concert season at Tempe Center for the Arts.
Opening night is Saturday, Jan. 23. The series runs through May. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
Difficult times call for bold leadership, says Lakeshore president Woody Wilson. Accordingly, Lakeshore introduces a live-streaming option for season-subscription buyers—they won’t even have to leave their recliners if they choose to watch from home rather than venturing to the arts center to see the concerts in person.
Another bold step is proceeding with the season despite having audiences limited to 25 percent of normal TCA house capacity by the city so that seats can be socially distanced for patrons’ safety.
Lakeshore consequently is selling only a six-show season package this year at $400. Those are on sale at lakeshoremusic.org. There will be no single-show ticket sales this season.
Purchase of the season subscription includes a Lakeshore Music face mask and a complimentary cocktail for those who come to the theater.
“We are in the vanguard of presenters who will jump-start live music again,” said Wilson, a Tempe resident. “Zoom and streaming concerts are interim alternatives. I love bringing people together for the music at TCA, and I need to get back to it.”
Other performing-arts destinations face similar challenges, according to Wilson.
“We are not alone. Venues and presenters throughout the world, large and small, are faced with the same realities,” Wilson said. “When it comes to live performances, everything is an experiment for at least the next year.
“We’ve survived two global economic meltdowns and a pandemic. After 12 years, I have no intention of stopping any time soon.”
Lakeshore’s Jan. 23 opening performance features The Tierney Sutton Band in a concert titled “Screenplay,” the group’s latest Grammy-nominated album that has been hailed as “an aural Oscar.” The group has garnered nine Grammy nominations in the past 15 years.
On Feb. 20, Lakeshore welcomes Bob Sheppard & the LA Aces. The group includes Larry Koonse on guitar, Josh Nelson on piano, Alex Boneham on bass and Mark Ferber on drums. Sheppard is a versatile super talent who has played with A-list greats Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, The 5th Dimension, Chuck Mangione, Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole.
In a rare double dip – two shows in one month – Lakeshore brings back Harold López-Nussa in “Te Lo Dije” (“I Told You So”)” a week later, on Feb 27. The Cuban pianist was rebooked after his April 2020 concert was canceled due to the pandemic. López-Nussa’s work reflects the range and richness of Cuban music and its embrace of jazz improvisation. His younger brother, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, is on percussion, Julio Cesar Gonzalez on bass and Mayquel Gonzalez on trumpet.
There are moments when an opportunity is so tremendous that it must be seized. Among them is March 27, when American Jazz Hall of Fame pianist and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron and his trio come to Tempe Center for the Arts. Barron, 77, has been nominated for nine Grammys and is considered among the most influential mainstream jazz lyrical pianists of his time.
Valley jazz fans will recognize Lakeshore’s April 24 performer, Dennis Rowland, who presents Basie Bash with The Young Sounds Orchestra. Rowland of Phoenix was the voice of the Count Basie Orchestra from 1977 to 1984, where he shared the stage with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett. He is featured on the Basie Band’s Grammy-winning record “On the Road.”
The season wraps on May 22 with the Bob Ravenscroft Trio in “A Homage to Bill Evans.” Pianist-keyboardist Ravenscroft cut his teeth in the clubs of Chicago. Max Beckman joins him on bass and Rob Moore on drums for interpretations of songs from The Great American Songbook, works associated with iconic jazz pianist Bill Evans.
Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, overlooks Tempe Town Lake and features a patio where patrons may enjoy a beverage and view sunsets just before the concerts. Information: 480-350-2822 or visit tempecenterforthearts.com.