For Tony Bennett, 88, the Point of Art Is to Convey "Truth and Beauty"

Larry Busacca
Tony Bennett

No, Lady Gaga will not perform with Tony Bennett at Mesa Arts Center.

There's long been talk of a collaboration CD between the two, and it seems that come September, the two finally will release Cheek to Cheek, an album that finds the unlikely collaborators crooning jazz standards, backed by consummate jazz professionals. If the two singles that have trickled into the world so far, "Anything Goes" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," reveal anything, it's that Gaga is a fantastic jazz singer, and Bennett, at 88 years young, still has some powerful vocal performances left in him.

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How a Dream of Louis Armstrong Inspired Dr. John's Latest Album

Bruce Weber
Dr. John

Seminal jazz trumpeter and vocalist Louis "Satch" Armstrong gets revitalized in 2014 thanks to New Orleans music maestro Dr. John. It's not that Armstrong's music isn't forever popular; it's just that the good Doctor has taken it upon himself to reinvent 13 Armstrong tracks -- using funk to blues to hip-hop -- on Ske-Dat-De-Dat . . . The Spirit of Satch.

If you ask Dr. John (real name Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack) why he has chosen to record the jazz icon's music (scheduled for an August 19 release), the response is simple: "He told me to do his music; his music, my way," Dr. John explains over the phone from his New Orleans home.

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Azar Lawrence, Doc Jones Team Up to Promote "Real Jazz"

Dove Shore Photography
Azar Lawrence is scheduled to perform Wednesday, April 30, at CityScape.

When Azar Lawrence plays Phoenix on Wednesday, April 30, as part of International Jazz Day, he will bring with him a lifetime's worth of jazz knowledge, plus the experience of playing with jazz greats such as Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Young, not to mention non-traditional types such as Frank Zappa, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Busta Rhymes.

Lawrence is in town at the behest of William "Doc" Jones, who organized an event at CityScape to promote "real jazz," featuring Lawrence, Jones, Papa John DeFrancesco, Carlos Rivas, Kerry Campbell, Nayo Jones, and Phoenix Country Day School Varsity Jazz Band. The event is a part of International Jazz Day, organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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Better Keep Your Eyes Open at Fusion Bassist Victor Wooten's Show

Bassist Victor Wooten has always been musical innovator, challenging the limitations of the electric bass and, in the process, developing new sounds and ways to play the instrument. His songwriting follows the same pattern. Whether composing as a founding member of the genre-bending bluegrass/psycho-space outfit Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, his family band (The Wootens), or his trio, Wooten expressively merges jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, and "that funky stuff" into compelling arrangements.

Much of his music is instrumental, but one of his two recent releases boasts vocals of the female kind on every track. In fact, the two albums -- Words & Tones and Swords & Stones -- are intertwined, one being more or less an instrumental version of the vocal version. Both albums have standalone tracks as well.

Up on the Sun recently caught up with Wooten, a five-time Grammy Award winner, to discuss his ideas behind releasing two albums together, growing up in a musical family, his exploration of the bass, and whether he's still slinging it over his shoulder in concert -- a trick he developed by watching Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham on MTV.

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