Arizona Classic Jazz Festival

2nd line parade in Downtown Chandler (photo by Helen Daley)

Helen Daley

Imagine the ‘20s roaring again as the jazz age of the 1920s is duplicated in the 2020s. Life may seem totally different from 100 years ago, but there are many similarities, too.

The 1920s was a decade of change, when many Americans owned cars, radios, and telephones for the first time. Women changed hair styles. Many shortened or bobbed their hair, while flappers danced and started wearing short, fancy dresses. The average life span was around 54 years. An amendment was passed that gave women the right to vote.

Musical styles began changing in the 1920s. Louis Armstrong started improvising and adding a personal musical style with his trumpet, a style named jazz. In 1925 the flappers established a new dance craze, the Charleston. Even though American Indians and African Americans had been granted American citizenship, there was still a great separation of the races in many places. The Ku Klux Klan caused havoc among all non-white races.

The Washington Post has a slogan: “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” and compared the last 100 years this way: “100 years ago: An election, a virus, and a cry from disillusioned youth. The age was ‘ruined … knocked to pieces, leaky, red-hot, threatening to blow up.’ For some, it feels like history repeating itself.”

There is a way to celebrate the good times of the 1920s now: through traditional jazz, music that strikes the heart of everyone. For a weekend, you can wrap yourself in the love and music that emanates from jazz festivals. One of the best events occurs in Chandler at the Crowne Plaza Phoenix-Chandler Golf Resort from Thursday, Nov. 3, to Sunday, Nov. 6. All flapper-style clothing welcome.

Cheryl’s Vintage Jazz will present Louis Armstrong and also back the Clarinet Trio with Pieter Meijers, John Clark, and Dan Levinson. Dick Maley’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) will bring the music of Duke Ellington to life. Queen City Jazz Band will showcase their own queen of jazz, Wendy Harston, highlighting the music of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. The St. Louis Stompers will play the music of Jelly Roll Morton. Sentimental Breeze will play compositions of George Gershwin meets Bessie Smith. Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, on dual pianos, will thrill the audience with Great Musicals of the 1920s. The Sun City Stomperz will play the music of Lil Hardin Armstrong. Tom Rigney will explain his life story with How Did I Get Here? The Wildcat Jazz Band will bring music lovers to their feet as the ‘20s Roar on Broadway. Wolverine Jazz Band will perform the music of Sidney Bechet.

“Big” B.A.D. Rhythm, Groovus, Something Doin’ – the Big Little Ragtime Band, We 3 + 1, and Jammers will complete the lineup. Howard Alden, guitarist and banjoist, and reed player Pieter Meijers will play with various bands throughout the weekend. The Hot Peppers, led by Lynn “Win” Roberts, will present the Grand Finale on Sunday.

The schedule is posted on