Sedona Jazz at the Church
Sunday at 3 p.m., a celebration of the human spirit and the creative genius of jazz musicians will be on display when Hungarian pianist Les "Lazlo" Czimber plays a tribute concert to the music of pianist and long-time friend, Bill Evans.
A storied musical genius in his own right, Les Czimber was born in Budapest, Hungary, and first heard the music called jazz while listening to Voice of America's Jazz disc jockey Willis Conover.
Conover regularly highlighted George Shearing's playing, and Les was particularly smitten by Shearing's renditions of "I Remember April," "East of the Sun," and "September in the Rain."
In January of 1957, Les escaped Communist domination when he walked in the winter cold from Budapest straight into Yugoslavia. With a lot of grace and help from others, he ended up in the United States, settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Czimber spent several years in Milwaukee honing his jazz skills. While living there he found a fledgling young singer whom he took under his wing and brought into the world of Jazz. The singer's name was Al Jarreau, and the two played together for several years.
It was also in Milwaukee where Les first met his Jazz friends Bill Evans and George Shearing, both of whom had come to the city for concerts. It was the beginning of long friendships for the three of them.
The West beckoned Les, and he relocated to the San Francisco bay area and then to Southern California and Orange County, where he became known as a first call pianist and innovative jazz stylist.
It was there that Czimber took under his wing a young bassist named John Patitucci, with whom he gigged for several of Patitucci's seminal years. Now a world class bassist in New York City, Patitucci is on Czimber's CD "Someday My Prince Will Come," which will be available for purchase at Sunday's concert.
Moving to Arizona in 2002, Les saw his old friend George Shearing at Prescott's Hassayampa Inn in 2005, and jokingly said to him, "It's your fault that I'm a piano player. My mother wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I listened to you and instead wanted to play jazz."
Czimber is now the musical and jazz powerhouse on Friday and Saturday evenings at Sedona's Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano.
A devotee of pianist Bill Evans' music, Les brings Evans into his improvisations at the tribute concert with both clarity and ease.
Czimber will be joined by Phoenix percussionist Dom Moio and bassist Dwight Kilian, both first call musicians throughout Phoenix and the Southwest.
Tickets for Sunday's concert are $13 and are available online and also at the door.
Tickets bought online will be held at the church at Will Call, and entitles the bearer to be admitted before tickets are sold at the door on the day of the concert.
Doors will open for Will Call at 2:30 p.m. At the door ticket sales begin at 2:40 p.m., and the concert begins at 3 p.m.
The public is encouraged to come early, as another full house is expected.
Saint Luke's Church is the home of SJATC, and is located in the Chapel area of Sedona, on Highway 179 between the Back O' Beyond and Chapel Road roundabouts.
For more information, telephone the church, (928) 282-7366 or visit the internet home of Sedona Jazz at the Church, found at www.episcopalnet.org.