Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

The sax will be sophisticated, hot at Jazz Society’s holiday concert

Citizen Staff Writer
Cover story



Talk about sax appeal.

The Tucson Jazz Society’s special Valentine’s Day concert will provide smooth jazz for all genders and saxophone fans. Marion Meadows will play soprano sax for the ladies, while singer/dancer/saxophonist Jessy J will bring feminine charms to her fresh way with samba rhythms and romantic ballads, playing tenor sax.

Meadows has been here before, finding a receptive TJS audience for his own smooth jazz blend of sensuality and funk. The title track of his album “Dressed To Chill” and his cover version of “I Believe I Can Fly” gave his improvisation a higher level of sophistication.

Growing up in Stamford, Conn., Meadows began playing clarinet in grade school. As a teen, he was equally attracted to Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington. Making the leap to Boston for college, he majored in arranging and composition at the Berklee College of Music.

During this period, he came across recordings by the traditional jazz artist Sidney Bechet, the first musician to adapt the soprano sax to jazz. In those old sounds Meadows heard new possibilities and has been improving his ear ever since.

But the best story is how Meadows was barely more than a college student doing a little busking in Grand Central Station. One of the many thousands passing through the marble lobby that day was film composer Jay Chattaway, who was literally blown away by Meadows’ music.

Chattaway introduced Meadows to music man Bob James, who signed the lad to James’ own record label, TappanZee. From out of Grand Central Station another artist was born.

Jessy J grew up on the opposite coast, winning several years’ worth of California student jazz competitions before making her splash in Fresno, Calif., in 2006 as a member of Paul Brown’s band. Later that same year she was headlining at the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival. The next year, at age 23, she came back as one of the only artists to headline shows on all three weekends of the festival.

J routinely tours with Michael Bublé, Jessica Simpson and Michael Bolton. Her Mexican-American family childhood also developed her natural ear for Latin rhythms. English is her second language, although you could make the argument that her first language is jazz.


What: Tucson Jazz Society presents Marion Meadows and Jessy J in concert

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 14

Where: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, 7000 N. Resort Drive

Price: $25-$35 regular admission; $75-$85 per person for premium tables in the first three rows; $20 students

Info: 903-1265 (TJS), tucsonjazz.org

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