August 13th-15th was a busy weekend in Los Angeles. Think of all of the various events available to attend, such as the Watts Summer Festival, St. Andrews Place Jazz Festival, St. Elmo Village Festival, and of course the Olympic Games broadcast from Greece.
You can tell where the priorities were for the 35,000 plus jazz fans spread out on the beautiful grassy knoll of the Rainbow Lagoon. The Lagoon is a great setting for a jazz festival. It offers a relax atmosphere where thousands of people can come out and have fun with other like minded people. The cares of the workplace, and other concerns were put on the backburner, while everyone gathered with one goal in mind: relax and have a good time while enjoying the eclectic mix of music performed at the festival.
Friday evening, Karino Nuvo kicked off the festivities with a set of R&B, jazz, Latin jazz, and salsa. She will take a maternity leave from performing until her baby arrives. She performed "Close Your Eyes", "I’m On My Way", "You Are My Everything". Keyboardist Dan Siegal and saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa were special guest featured in the band.
Smooth jazz guitarist Peter White played some original tunes from his previous CD’s. The crowd responded favorably when he delved into a R&B groove on "I Can See Clearly Now", "Poppa Was A Rolling Stone", "Where Is The Love", "Who’s That Lady by the Isley Brothers. He threw in a couple of Jimi Hendrix wah wah riffs on this tune. He concluded his set with "Venice Beach.
Vocalist Al Jarreau has been described as a "Human Instrument" for his ability to imitate various instruments. Mr. Jarreau is on a world wide tour promoting his latest CD-Accentuate The Positive. This CD contains ten jazz standards as interpretive by Al Jarreau. The crowd were very please with the tunes he performed during his set. He performed "After All", "Roof Garden", "Take 5", "Cold Duck", and the title song from his latest CD to close out the first day of the festival.
There are many gifted and talented musicians living in Los Angeles who haven’t been discovered. Thanks to Al Williams and Rainbow Promotions, and Lynne Rogers, Director of Urban League- Long Beach Chapter, emerging jazz artist has a platform to assist in launching their careers, by entering the Long Beach Jazz Talent Search.
The 2004 Jazz Search Winner Julie Burrell was the opening act on Saturday. She has a voice that sounds great in jazz or blues genres. The talented vocalist and her trio performed superbly during their moment in the spotlight. Her latest CD- JulieJazz is available from (www.julieburrell.com). The group consisted of Peter Veress on piano, Tony Green on bass and Nick Scarmack on drums. They performed "I’m Different", "Summertime", "Red Cadillac",and "Mr. Licks".
Popular San Diego based band Fattburger dished up a tasty set of contemporary rhythm and jazz. The band consisted of Carl Evans Jr.-keyboards, Tom Aros-percussions, Kevin Koch-drums, and Evan Marks-guitar. The crowd voiced their concern for a second serving of Fattburger at the conclusion of their set.
The Jazz Crusaders thoroughly engaged the crowd with some classic tunes from their extensive songbook. Audience participated on "Keep that Same Old Feeling". You could see people dancing the electric slide all around the lagoon. Vocalist Jean Carne joined the band to sing "Street Life", one of their signature tunes.
The next three performers revisited the Old School of R&B. Billy Paul opened his set with an inspirational tune "Thanks For Saving My Life", and continued with "This Is Your Life", "Let’s Get it On", "What’s Going On", and closed his set with "Me And Mrs. Jones".
Vocalist Jean Carne continued in the same mode on the following songs "What You Wont Do For Love", "It Takes A Fool to Learn", "Was It All It Was", "Don’t Let It Go to Your Head", and concluded her set with "Closer and Close". Vocalist Michael Henderson performed many of his hits from the past "Valentine", "Wide Receiver", "Starship", "In The Night Time", "Take Me I’m Yours" performed with Rina Scott. All three artists received a thunderous response from the crowd at the conclusion of their set.
Keyboardist Brian Culbertson pumped up the energy of this explosive line-up for Saturday. The band delivered an entertaining set that found the audience begging for an encore.
Alto saxophonist David Sanborn closed out Saturday’s show with a thrilling set of soulful jazz.
Residents of Los Angeles are fortunate to live here and see some of the top name touring artist. We also have the opportunity to see some up and coming and emerging talent. The AC (Afro-Cuban) Timba Jazz Band is a case in point. This local band performs around town. They also happen to be the 2003/2004 Jazz Talent Winner in the Latin Jazz category. The sad part about this story is the leader of the group Long John Oliva passed away earlier this year. They kicked off Sunday’s show with a splendid set of Latin Jazz that would make Long John Oliva very proud. The members of the group: Fermin Sifontes-piano, Jorge Perez "Sawa"-bass, Javier Vergara-saxophone/flute, and Humberto "Nengue" Hernandez promised to continue Long John Oliva’s legacy.
Day three of the 19th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival continued with a nice set from Steve Cole, bebop set from Al Williams Jazz Society with Vocalist Niki Harris, a soulful R&B set from KEM, and entertaining and crowd pleasing sets from Roy Ayers, George Duke and Latin Jazz great Poncho Sanchez.
I wished to thank Al Williams and the Kimberly Benoit and the wonderful staff at Rainbow Promotions, Jalila Larsuel-the Publicist for the festival and the generosity of the sponsors: Bank Of America, Northrop Grumman, Southwest Airlines, Budweiser, BET on Jazz, Charter Digital, Channel 2 & KCAL 9, Jazziz Magazine, The Wave 94.7-KTWV-FM, KKJZ FM 88.1, KJLH 102.3FM, and Kawai for staging of this musical festival.