As the festival got under way, Saturday afternoon had an amazing line-up of artists with diverse styles for everyone to enjoy. There were Afro-Cuban rhythms by the Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz Project and notable reggae vocalist Andrew Tosh paid tribute to his father the late Peter Tosh with the Peter Tosh Band. And the remarkable blues vocalist, Chuck Strong unleashed a wealth of deep expressions and essence as he had the audience rocking in their seats. Also, R&B performed by George Johnson, guitarist / vocalist and Louis Johnson bassist / vocalist of The Brothers Johnson was just fantastic. Drummer, extraordinaire Norman Connors & his Starship Orchestra provided a tribute to the late Phyllis Hyman with a variety of musical blends of jazz and r&b with the help of vocalist Marjorie Hughes, and the very talented Laws sisters, vocalist Deborah and Eloise. Additionally, Connors was later joined on stage by the incomparable vocalist Jean Carne. Saturday was truly an incredible evening, closing with Bobby Womack, giving a very energetic and soulful performance.
Sunday performance began with Billy Higgins’ Kids a group of student’s ages 6 thru 12 of young drummers, a project implemented by the late drummer Billy Higgins, now under the direction Kharon Harrison. Also, Karen Briggs a prominent Jazz violinist delighted the audience with her skillful mastery of the violin; Briggs was enthused as the audience desired to hear more of her artistic style of jazz as she left the stage. The masterful pianist Cedar Walton and his sextet captivated the audience with their intricate, sounds in contemporary jazz, while Michael Sessions engaged the audience with his modern style of jazz. In addition, trumpeter, Oscar Brashear treated the audience with his complex style of play and his amazing ability to improvise.
A tribute to the late great saxophonist Charlie Parker by saxophonist Charles McPherson and his Quartet, was well worth the wait as he and his quartet was one of the last performances of the evening. McPherson engaged the audience with some of Parker’s most memorable recordings, as the audience replied with favorable applause. With The Gerald Wilson Orchestra dedicating a well-deserved tribute to the legendary saxophonist, Benny Carter. However, Gerald Wilson is quite a virtuoso in his own right as a well renowned composer/arrange in jazz. Wilson dazzled the crowd with some of his greatest recording and humored them with his comical anecdotes of yore. Wilson gave nothing short of an amazing performance as he has accomplished countless times before.