Los Angeles-The summer outdoor music festival season concluded on a high note. You and I probably were in attendance at one or more of the various festivals, which were held from Memorial Day Weekend through the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd.
Jazz At Drew Legacy Music Series & Cultural Marketplace Presented by Honda-celebrated its 14th year as one of Southern California’s most popular music and charity event. This year, as in the past, a stellar line-up of jazz, R&B legends performed for a capacity crowd on Saturday and Sunday, October 2nd and 3rd, 2004 in the grassy outdoor setting on the campus of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science in Los Angeles California. Jazz At Drew raised much needed funds to support Drew University, the only historically Black institution for graduate education in health profession west of the Mississippi.
The line-up for this year’s festival was one of the best that I’ve attended in recent years. I was very impressed that this year’s festival offered a smorgasbord of genres of music from blues to gospel, Latin jazz to straight ahead jazz. There was something on the line-up that appeared to all in attendance. James Janisse of KKJZ FM 88.1 served as Master of Ceremonies.
The festival kicked off on a spiritually uplifting note with the INNER CITY MASS CHOIR, led by Jeffrey Coprich. Watching this group perform, you felt as if you were in church with people stomping their feet, clapping their hands all for the Glory of God. "So Worthy", "Excellent", and "More Abundantly" were some of the songs performed during their lively set.
The ELLIOTT CAINE SEXTET played a wonderful set of original tunes. This talented group performed "Bopalicious", "Mysterioslee", "Peace & Love" (ballad), and "Nu Bossa" and closed with a Latin flavored song "Blues For Tito". Members of this Los Angeles based band consist of Elliott Caine-trumpet, Antwone Dearborn-congas, Carl Randall-saxophone, Bill Markus-bass, Steve Sykes-drums, and Rick Olson-piano.
Vocalist BARBARA MORRISON is the hardest working singer in Los Angeles. She had just flown in from another gig in Denver before her always entertaining set at Jazz At Drew. It doesn’t matter where or for whom she performs, you are always guaranteed a very enjoyable show. Her tight band complimented her in every way. She featured the following songs during her set, "Endangered Species", "All Blues", "Send Me Someone To Love", "This Is Always", and "Lullaby of Birdland". She sold and autographed lots of CD’s before she left for another gig.
"You can’t lose with the blues" is a popular saying amongst music aficionados. Guitarist Roy Gaines served up a scorching set of greasy Texas blues to the delight of the crowd.
The JAZZ ON THE LATIN SIDE ALL-STARS led by Jose Rizo of KKJZ FM 88.1 served up a tasty dish of Latin jazz from their current CD entitled The Last Bullfighter.
The salseros in the house danced to the following tunes "Justo’s Trane Ride", a mambo version of "Be-Bop" by Dizzy Gillespie, "Saoco" and closed with "Mamacita Caravana" written for one of his co-workers-Carole Jaye.
OSCAR BROWN JR. (Mr. Kicks) was my favorite performer on Saturday. This Chicago based vocalist captivates audiences all over the world. I was thrilled, like many in the audience to hear and see him perform "Jazz Before It Got Educated", "Dat Dere", "Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk, "All Blues" by Miles Davis, and "Things Ain’t What They Used To Be" by Duke Ellington and closed his set with two classic songs "Signifying Monkey", and "But I Was Cool".
The first day of Jazz At Drew concluded with a set of Old School R&B. The following three groups took the audience down memory lane.
The Chi-lites stepped up on stage dressed to the nines in matching suits. Members of the audience served as a back up choir as they sang along with the group on "Give More Power To the People", "You Better Like Me Tell You", "I Want To Pay You Back(For Loving Me), "I Remember", "Oh Girl", "The Coldest Days of My Life", "Have You Seen Her", "and "Fabulous" by JAHEEM.
Vocalist BOBBT WOMACK performed most of his classic hits during his set. "Looking For A Love", "You’re Welcome To Stop On By", "Ain’t Nothin’ Like The Lovin’ We Got", "That’s The Way I Feel About Cha", "A Woman Gotta Have It", "Across 110th Street", "Nobody Wants You When You Are Down And Out", and "I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much".
The (ICEMAN) JERRY BUTLER closed out the first day of Jazz At Drew. BOBBY MATOS & HIS AFRO LATIN JAZZ ALL-STARS opened the show on Sunday. He played material from his latest CD-Made By Hand
to a small but enthusiastic crowd.
The LEIMERT PARK ALL-STARS consisted of many of the artist working in the thriving and vibrant area of Leimert Part Village. This marvelous group consisted of KABASA WEST AFRICAN DRUM & DANCE ENSEMBLE, vocalist DWIGHT TRIBBLE, word musician KAMAU DAAOOD, and a host of talented musician led by saxophonist MICHAEL SESSIONS.
Church service was held once again during Jazz At Drew. The AGAPE INTERNATIONAL CHOIR performed some roof raising gospel music for the enjoyment of the crowd. The choir from Agape Spiritual Center in Culver City with founder/minister Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith. The choir is directed by Dr. Richie Byars-Beckwith. The glorifying sounds of this dynamic choir resonated throughout the community. They sang "The Spirit of God Is With Me", "We Let It Be", "City of God", and "When The River Is Rising". This last song offers hope to anyone who is going through tough times. The message is hold on.
MARLENA SHAW is another beautiful DIVA who grace the stage at Jazz At Drew. She established repoir with the audience before her first song. She was splendid on the following tunes "You Are My Summer, Fall,Winter and Spring", "New York State of Mind", "Until I Met You", "Living For You", "I Ain’t Doing Too Bad", "and closed with one of her classic hits "Go Away Little Boy".
The 14th Annual Jazz At Drew concluded by going "Straight Ahead" as the late great DJ Chuck Niles of KKJZ FM 88.1 would say. Brilliant is the appropriate word to describe the performances by CEDAR WALTON SEXTET, DAVID "FATHEAD"NEWMAN, FRANK CAPP JUGGERNAUT ORCHESTRA with legendary vocalist ERNIE ANDREWS.
Dr. Harry E. Douglas, III,DPA and Roland Betts, Executive Producer of Jazz At Drew presented awards throughout the festival. The 2004 "JAZZ AT DREW" Awardees-David "Fathead" Newman and Frank Capp (Lifetime Achievement Award), Dr. Gus Gill, M.D., F.A.C.S , and Timothy "Tim" Watkins Sr. and Theodore "Teddy" Watkins, Jr.(Community Service Award), Agape International Choir, and Jazz On The Latin Side All-Stars (Jazz At Drew Ambassador Award).
Jazz At Drew has proven on every occasion to be more than a celebration of music. It is due to the healing power of music that this event endeavors and succeeds in building cultural bridges through music. Jazz At Drew continues the University’s missions "To conduct education and research in the context of community service in order to train physicians and allied health professionals to provide care with excellence and compassion, especially to under served populations".