This past Saturday Mike Vax and his quartet played at the Highlands Center for Natural History with invited guest Dennis Rowland.  Rowland, originally from Detroit, now makes his home in Phoenix.  For seven years he was a vocalist with the Count Basie Band.  We heard him in February when he was featured on the main stage of the Arizona Centennial Best Fest.  His rich, deep voice resonates with his spontaneity while performing with different groups.  His drive to Prescott needed to be rerouted after encountering a closed I17.  Consequently, he drove through Wickenburg and arrived after the scheduled 7 p.m. starting time.  In his absence the Mike Vax Quintet played a song from their repertoire and Mike Vax answered questions about jazz from the audience of about 200.  He made clear that he considers the term “smooth jazz” a misnomer.  He emphasized how each jazz performer creates their solo from the material.  The musicians playing with and for Dennis Rowland included Mike Vax, trumpet; Jack Petersen, keyboard and guitar; Tony Vacca, saxophone and flute; and Ted Sistrunk, bass.  We arrived an hour before the scheduled concert start time and sat in the front row.  Like the concert we attended last year, monsoon rain drove those without cover to leave early.  We enjoyed a fine concert with outstanding performances by Dennis Rowland and the Mike Vax Quintet.