Who is the Mesa Jazz & Blues Theater
88 year old Bill Travis, the founder and CEO of the Mesa Jazz and Blues theater describes why he decided to form this non-profit corporation.
Mesa did not have a theater for live jazz music that specialized in top-level jazz and live blues music, the music that originated in America. I grew up with jazz music, blues music, and in my late teens attended many live R&B shows in local theaters, and in local night clubs that would allow me in. Then in the early 1950's I began playing drums in bebop jazz bands. Since I felt there was a void to be filled in Mesa and the east valley, I formed an Arizona non-profit corporation and applied for the IRS 501(c)3 exemption so the theater could attract donors who also want to preserve and present that music in Mesa.
After being drafted into the Army in 1953, I was accepted into the 4th Armored Division Band. Using my Army musician friends, I formed a 5-piece band that played jazz standards, and some bebop jazz, at the Officers Club, Non-commissioned Officers Club, and the USO club.
After my Army discharge, I began flight training, and eventually became a Captain for Pan Am Airlines where I had a 28 year career until retirement age in 1992.
I’ve been a musician, drummer, all my life, so after retirement, I formed my own 17-piece band and several smaller ones, specializing in big band music and jazz standards, that I booked and performed with for 10 years in the San Francisco area. After relocating to the Phoenix area in 2004, I gave up playing drums and did some volunteer projects.
While volunteering at a local community theater, in the sound department, I was asked to book some of the performances. After a while I decided to leave and start booking performances on my own at another venue.
Due to Omicron, I had to shut down, and during the down time, I decided to put together a board of directors to develop a non-profit theater specializing in jazz and blues music, R&B, soul and Motown music, utilizing top-level local, and nationally known musicians.
Mesa Jazz & Blues Theater
5255 E Brown Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85205
(Inside the Connect Church facility)