Stompin' at Balboa

Phoenix Jazz Orchestra launches its assault on Tempe after only one rehearsal

The tightly arranged, big-band format might not leave much room for improvisation, but it clearly offers the Phoenix Jazz Orchestra's players a chance to indulge their musical passions in a relaxed setting. It's exciting to consider how good they might be once they've actually played together a few times.

"We're kinda new at this, we had a couple of tunes that kinda fell on their ass [Tuesday, February 9], but reading the music isn't a problem for these guys," Neish says. "It's just a case of doing music that everyone likes to do, 'cause a lot of the musicians don't get to do what they call 'fun gigs.' So they like to come out on an off night, drink some beers and have a good time."

Phoenix Jazz Orchestra is scheduled to perform every Tuesday in February at Balboa Cafe in Tempe. Showtime is 9:30 p.m.

Reek en Espanol: The scheduled February 20 show by Mexican rock icons the Jaguares has been canceled. The gig, which would have been the band's first in Phoenix, was anxiously anticipated by the Valley's rockeros, who viewed this as the movement's biggest local event to date.

But the band pulled out of the show on February 10, for reasons that remain unclear. Ramon Garcia, the promoter for the concert, says he's not sure about the reason for the cancellation, but insists it has nothing to do with singer Saul Hernandez's history of throat problems, which have caused the band to pull out of shows in the past. The band, which grew to legendary status in its earlier incarnation as Caifanes, was widely expected to sell out Club 602, formerly the site of Toolies Country.

"There are some angry people on this side," Garcia says. "It could turn into an ugly legal matter."

Tight Squeeze: At Cajun House on February 8, Brit-pop godfathers Squeeze played a tight set generously loaded with favorites from the band's two-decade recording career. The performance was strong enough to make up for the glaring absence of guitarist/lyricist Chris Difford. Lead singer Glenn Tilbrook (the only original member of the band at the show) explained from the stage that Difford had checked himself into a clinic in England just as the band was heading out for its current tour, sending out his love and adding that he hoped Difford could join the band later on the tour.

In a footnote to the show, the ever-gracious Tilbrook phoned New Times contributing writer Serene Dominic a few hours before the gig to let him know how much he'd enjoyed Dominic's New Times story on the band ("Suicide Squeeze," February 4). It's nice to know the man's still a cheeky chappy after all these years of argybargy.

Blast Off: The Phoenix Blues Society's eighth annual festival, Blues Blast '99, will feature the usual mix of national and local blues standouts, including Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers, Guitar Shorty, Bob Margolin, Chico Chism, Hans Olson and Big Nick & the Gila Monsters. The Gila Monsters plan to use their set (bolstered by the Groove Merchants horn section) as a live recording session. Blues Blast '99 is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mesa Amphitheatre.

In club news, the Green Room--formerly known as Fumbles--will launch its new incarnation this weekend with a Friday, February 19 show by The Peacemakers, and a February 20 show featuring Hammertoes and Bob Log III of Doo Rag.

--Gilbert Garcia

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: ggarcia@newtimes.com

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