Press Release

February 21, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Passey | [email protected] | 480-874-4626

Jazz at Lincoln Center and ‘Pioneering Women in Jazz’ among shows scheduled in Scottsdale this spring

“Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents Songs We Love” (Riley Mulherkar pictured) and “Bessie, Billie, & Nina — Pioneering Women of Song” (Tahira Clayton pictured) are among the jazz concerts scheduled at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this spring.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts has already welcomed some jazz greats to its stage this season, and there’s still more to come this spring, including a special presentation from Jazz at Lincoln Center on Sunday, March 6.

With “Songs We Love,” Jazz at Lincoln Center presents up-and-coming musicians in an entertaining and engaging program that will lift you to a higher place and inspire confidence in the future of jazz. Under the musical direction of Riley Mulherkar, ”Songs We Love” is a journey through the first 50 years of jazz song.

Three guest vocalists will join an all-star band made up of New York’s rising stars. Combining their distinct talents, the group will sing their way through four decades of music, beginning with the early blues and jazz of the 1920s and ending in the early 1950s. Iconic singers to be explored include Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

Performers for “Songs We Love” include Mulherkar, the music director, on trumpet along with Vuyo Sotashe, vocals; Brianna Thomas, vocals; Shenel Johns, vocals; Mariel Bildsten, trombone; Julian Lee, reeds; Mathis Picard, piano; Barry Stephenson, bass; and TJ Reddick, drums.

Then on Saturday, March 26, “Bessie, Billie, & Nina — Pioneering Women in Jazz” will showcase three dynamic vocalists, each a rising star in her own right. Charenée Wade and Camille Thurman are both regular performers with Jazz at Lincoln Center and Tahira Clayton is co-leader of Women in Jazz Organization.

Presented in affiliation with WIJO and backed by an all-female band, Wade, Thurman and Clayton celebrate the enduring legacies of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone with performances of classic songs by these iconic women and artists, including Smith’s “Downhearted Blues,” Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.”

“The work that these pioneering women did in their lifetime and the relevance that it still holds today with current social justice and women’s rights issues is striking,” said Abbey Messmer, programming director at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. “Art is a tool for communication, discovery and, ideally, progress. The evening’s music will take us back in time but also provide a moment of reflection on the present and into the future.”

Produced by Grammy-winning Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson), and with arrangements by pianist and musical director Carmen Staff (Dee Dee Bridgewater), “Pioneering Women in Jazz” illustrates that the musical and social legacies of Smith, Holiday and Simone remain as relevant as ever.

Another show honoring legendary women in music will come to the center on April 13 as Beth Lederman and Jazz Con Alma with Holly Pyle honor female composers with a performance called “She, Hers, Ours.” Holiday and Simone are again among the artists they will channel, in addition to Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Marian McPartland, Jessica Williams, Esperanza Spalding and Blossom Dearie.

Other jazz shows coming up at the center include Arizona State University’s Concert Jazz Band and Traditional Jazz Band in a Mardi Gras-themed performance on March 1; the Charles Lewis Quintet with Alice Tatum on March 6; Michael Feinstein’s Judy Garland celebartion, “Get Happy!,” on March 20; Jazz Noir with Dmitri Matheny on May 12; and the Vijay Iyer Trio on May 21.

Each concert will be at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. Ticket prices vary by show. Visit or call the box office at 480-499-TKTS (8587) for more information.

All guests age 12 and older must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken within 72 hours of the performance date, along with photo ID, to attend performances. As an alternative, guests may provide proof of full vaccination. Masks are highly encouraged to protect artists, staff and patrons. For full health and safety protocols, visit