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25th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival

Hollywood-36,000 people descended upon the Hollywood Bowl for the 25th Annual (Silver Anniversary) of the internationally acclaimed festival and premier jazz event: The Playboy Jazz Festival.

The distinguished L.A. County High School For The Arts Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jason Goldman opened the program with their interpretations of jazz standards and Latin jazz tunes. The future of jazz rest in good hands thanks in part to Dr. Dan Castro-Chair of the Music Department at Cal State Los Angeles.

Fanfare Ciocarlia an amazing high energy group from Romania surprised and baffled a lot of people. Try if you will to think of Charlie Parker with some of the top name brass bands from New Orleans.

Liz Wright-before she took the stage, there was great anticipation of the new up and coming jazz diva. She easily lived up to the hype and soared beyond singing material from her critically acclaimed debut CD-Salt. She was cool, calm and graceful as she demonstrated her powerful gospel tinged vocal range on "Home", "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly", brilliant interpretation of "Afro Blues", and "Blue Rose" open chorus sung acapella.

Dave Holland Quintet showcased the talents of this popular bassist and cellist with prestigious credentials having won the Downbeat’s critics and reader’s poll for 2003. They played original materials of Straight-ahead jazz to the delight of the jazz purist in the crowd.

The Hollywood Bowl was converted into a temporary Baptist Church for the next group. Pure pandemonium swept over the bowl, as The Blind Boys of Alabama took the audience on a spiritual journey. 18,000 people were up on their feet,clapping,stomping their feet,waving hankerchiefs (napkins/ paper towels) whooping and hollering, as if in church for a revival. Each tune came with a message that was heard as well as felt by the audience. The memorable tunes performed were "Keep The Devil In Your Hole","Amazing Grace", "House Of The Rising Sun", "Someone Watching Over Me", and ended their set with "I’m A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord". Let the audience say AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A crowd pleasing set were performed by Hiroshima, accentuated by their distinct sound of smooth jazz flavored with the popular sounds from Japan. The highlight of their set was "Kyoto Blues" composed after a conversation with festival master of ceremonies Bill Cosby.

The L.A. Home Grown All-Star Big Band featured a fascinating group of musicians each a leader of their own highly respected groups. They played an eclectic mix of tunes, composed by different members of the group. The band consisted of percussionist and world class drummer Ndugu Chancler; guitarist Paul Jackson Jr.; multi-Grammy nominated keyboardist and musical director Patrice Rushen; trailblazing saxophonist and Grammy winner Tom Scott; pre-eminent Grammy-winning saxman Ernie Watts.

Fascinating, beautiful, super charged and energetic singer/dancer Daniela Mercury took the audience on a tour of the musical landscape of Brazil. The crowd got more than their monies worth with the Las Vegas style show. The infectious, danceable sound featured were a mixture of samba-reggae, salsa, rock, meringue, and lambada. At the conclusion of her set, you knew without a doubt why she is touted as the undisputed queen of Axe’ music, and why she has a loyal fan base all over the world.

Saturday’s program concluded with entertaining set provided by Boz Scaggs, Boney James, and Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band with special guest James Moody.

Sunday- The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet kicked off the final day of the festival. This gifted group of young men consisted of saxophonist Tommy Morimoto; trumpeter Anthony Coleman; pianist Fabian Almazon; bassist Joe Sanders; and drummer Justin Brown. These well rounded musicians played a set of modern jazz composed by each of the band members. Checking out the proceedings at the side of the stage and beaming with pride, like a proud father were the institute’s namesake Dave Brubeck and his lovely wife Iola.

The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars didn’t quite connect with the audience at large. Their contagious sound however, proved irresistible for a couple of dancers in the crowd.

The Cos of Good Music VIII another all-star ensemble thrilled the audience with a marvelous set of jazz standards. The ensemble consisted of Bill Cosby-drums; accomplished bassist Dwayne Burno; world class drummer and percussionist Ndugu Chancler; tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb; top trumpeter Eddie Henderson; acclaimed pianist Harold Mabern; remarkable vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson; and emerging young star, alto saxophonist Keschia Potter (who has recorded three CD’s). The highlight of this set was a performance by another singing sensation Renee Olstead,13 years old. The audience was extremely attentive when she belted out "At Last" by Etta James, and gave her a much deserved standing ovation. Definitely someone to be on the look out for in the future.

The Bobby Rodriquez Salsa Orchestra featuring Alex Acuna . This tight band performed fiery hot set of salsa, Latin jazz, that turned the Hollywood Bowl into a giant dance floor for the salseros.

Renowned pianist and Jazz Ambassador Dave Brubeck Quartet returned for their third appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival. The highlight of this set was the rare appearance of Dave Brubeck and vocalist Al Jarreau pairing up to perform "Take Five". Al Jarreau mesmerized the crowd with his dynamic scatting abilities,effortlessly sounding like a drummer and a conga player.

The festival line-up/party continued with Roy Haynes Quartet; Los Hombres Calientes featuring Bill Summers and Irving Mayfield; Ozomatli; Al Jarreau; and closed out with Guitar and Saxes featuring popular smooth jazz artist-guitarist Peter White and Jeff Golub, and sax masters Richard Elliot and Steve Cole.

The Silver Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival show(which was also the first major celebration in a year long series of events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Playboy Magazine), highlighted the entire spectrum of jazz, from straight ahead to contemporary, blues to big band, swing to salsa, and world music on this Father’s Day weekend.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Unknown
  • Subtitle: Milestone celebrated at the Hollywood Bowl
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