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 THE 36th ANNUAL PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL 

   

  Review by Bridgid Brousseau

 

The first ever Playboy Jazz Festival was held in Chicago Stadium in August of 1959 where Jazz music icons from Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald performed to a crowd of 68,000 people.  The tradition continues.

 

The 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl took place on June 14-15, 2014. The Hollywood Bowl, set in Bolton Canyon, is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world!  With a seating capacity of exactly 17,376, the Playboy Jazz Festival was sold out for Saturday and Sunday.

 

For the past 36 years the Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl has brought together the greatest, biggest and most innovative Jazz musicians in the world. Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner made a very brief appearance but disappeared quickly. The multi-talented George Lopez kept the crowd going as he returned for his second year as Master of Ceremonies.

 

Although the festival provided a range of talent, the crowd was a little mild and laid back this year than last year. This could be attributed to the “Big Bands” that perhaps the younger generations were not fully exposed to whereas the older generations are not the “dance in the isles” type. However, this year’s festival brought a variety of incredible musicians that appealed to many generations as it should. 

  

Several of the highlights on Saturday included performances by vocalist, Allen Stone, Saxophonist, Tia Fuller, vocalist, Dianne Reeves and the Arturo Sandoval Big Band with special guest and jazz vocal powerhouse, Patti Austin. I always watch in awe as she performs. Additional special guests with this big band included Monica Mancini, twin daughter of the famous film composer Henry Mancini and Oscar nominated actor, Andy Garcia on bongos.  

 

Allen Stone definitely rocked it! The 25-year-old singer-songwriter from Chewelah, Washington has a lot of soul. Although his social consciousness has been likened to that of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers his voice has that smooth raspy sound similar to Adam Levine and lead singer of Simply Red, Mick Hucknall.

 

Saxophonist, Tia Fuller gave a captivating performance as she proved her mastery and skill with her quartet.  I read a quote about Tia that states, “she plays with the kind of aggression that men do.” Why shouldn’t she? Additionally it is no surprise that Dianne Reeves looked just as beautiful as she sang. 

  

Saturday’s festival provided a particularly poignant moment as Al Jarreau, Byron Miller, Paul Jackson Jr., Greg Phillinganes, Lil John Roberts, Josie James and John Beasley Celebrated the life of the late, great George Duke who passed away August 5, 2013, less than two months after performing for the 2013 Playboy Jazz Festival. His family members were present in the audience.

 

Longtime friend and fellow musician, Stanley Clarke also took to the stage to pay homage to his dear friend, George Duke.  George Duke was a powerful musical force for over 40 years. He is truly missed.

 

Sunday’s performances included the James Cotton blues Band with special guest Big Jay McNeely, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Jose James, and Dave Holland performing with Kevin Eubanks, Craig Taborn and Eric Harland. Capping Sunday’s lineup was American Idol winner turned Grammy winner, Fantasia. She brought the crowd to their feet with her signature soulful sound. Closing out the show was the incomparable George Benson with special guest Earl Klugh and Los Amigos Invisibles.  

 

If you have never attended The Playboy Jazz festival I would definitely add it to your bucket list. I was able to speak with jazz fans throughout the day that had traveled very far to be in attendance. If you live in the great city of Los Angeles and have not attended at least one Playboy Jazz Festival then as a writer I simply do not have words for you. This is a ride that must be taken at least once by everyone.          

 

 

 

THE 88.5  KSBR BASH AND JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014

    written by Bridgid Brousseau

 

The city of Mission Viejo played host to another legendary KSBR Birthday Bash at the beautiful Oso Viejo Park on the Village Green. The Birthday Bash this Memorial Day Weekend partnered with Saddleback College and its Radio Station, KSBR Jazz Fm 88.5.  For seven years, this setting has proven to be a great place for music enthusiasts to come listen to many of the greatest performers in Jazz and indulge in tasting great food and fine wine. It is rare that a festival of this magnitude is able to bring together such remarkable talents at once given their busy schedules.  KSBR pulled it off!

 

Included in this year’s festival was the timeless legend, Grammy award winning vocalist, Melissa Manchester who made her first KSBR Birthday Bash appearance. She is releasing her 20th album “You Gotta Love Life.”  Also making appearances this year were vocalists: Bill Cantos, Dean Grech, Slim Man, and Kiki Ebsen, saxophonists: Mindi Abair, Najee, Michael Lington, Greg Vail, Elan Trotman and Grace Kelly, on horns; Greg Dams, Aubrey Logan and Joey Sellers, guitarists: Paul Brown, Peter White, Jay Gore, and Terry Wollman, keyboardists; Gregg Karukas, Joey Navarro and Tracy Carter, Bassists: Max Benett, Brian Bromberg, Darryl Williams and Melvin Davis, drummers: Evan Stone, Nat Scott, Tony Moore and Eric Valentine and percussionists: Rafael Feliciano, Ramon Yslas, Paris Escovedo and Estaire Gordinez.

 

The crowd was on a natural high sampling and enjoying food and libations from various vendors. The festival also included live performance artist Thomas Clark who painted two large custom art pieces during the show which were auctioned off by the silent auction. The audience was captivated as they watched the process of the paintings being created before their eye. Renowned Artist, Bettie Grace Minor of Minor Works of Art also donated an original piece to be raffled at the Festival. She beautifully integrates photography and painting techniques.

 

Bettie Grace Miner  Like Jazz, Bettie Grace Miner is an artist that brings an improvisational fusion of musical insight, bold colors and an expressive heart to an avant-garde style of photography and fine art painting.

"The item I donated for the BASH raffle was a framed jazz print, autographed by all the musicians who played at the event."

 

It is an event such as the KSBR Bash that brings families and friends closer together not only for the audience but for the musicians also. Vocalist and songwriter Slim Man, “It’s great to see all of my old friends. This is good for us all.  It’s great to see what a great turnout this is! I was amazed. The last time I played was eight years ago in San Juan Capistrano. This is like “all grown up.” It’s nice.”  For all Slim Man fans, he returns this year with the recently released, “Bona Fide” CD, the first in eight years. “We just finished the “Bona Fide” album so we’re going to start pumping that. Then I’m going to start working on a new Slim Man CD.”

 

Bill Cantos agreed. “This is exhilarating! I’m playing with Najee! He played on my record so I’m looking forward to playing with him today. I’m also playing with Tony Guerreo and I’m looking forward to that as well.  But I’ve played with just about all of these artists and it’s always a pleasure to play with all of them.” FYI to all Bill Cantos admirers who love his hit song “Beautiful One,” I had to find out who was the song’s inspiration behind such a passionate song. “Beautiful One” is about my wife.”

 

Peter White has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists in Contemporary Jazz. Fans may not hear him on the radio forefront but he remains unparalleled in sound and ability to combine elements of Jazz, Pop and Classical guitar.  “We don’t have the radio we used to have but at least we still have the internet and at least the door was open for me. “ People see me and ask what I’ve been doing and I tell them I’m still doing what I’ve always been doing. But I’m not on the radio so you have to make some effort to locate your favorite artists.” I have Peterwhite.com for twenty years so I’m the easiest person to find.” He remains very accessible to his very broad fan base.

 

At the age of 22, saxophonist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and bandleader Grace Kelly has released six albums. Her career started at age six and only continues to flourish. However, has still been able to maintain a balance her musical career and living and loving life.  

 

If you were lucky enough to be in attendance at this year’s KSBR Bash Jazz Festival you also have a chance to make the KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival and Taste of the Bash – the BEST OF for the 2014 Best of Orange County for the second year in a row. The voting is underway. Be sure to vote by May 31, 2104. Logon to:

http://www2.ocregister.com/voteocbest/# Click the category of Luxury/Lifestyle. If you were not at the bash, you truly missed out on a unique collaborative appearance by some of the greatest talents in Jazz.

 

We’ll see everyone next year! Thank you 88.5, KSBR!

 

KSBR BASH JAZZ FESTIVAL & TASTE OF THE BASH 2014

Artist, Thomas Clark

 

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THE GRAMMY MUSEUM’S JANE ORTNER EDUCATION AWARD LUNCHEON 2014

 

By Bridgid Brousseau

 

“Arts are a way to channel pain and frustration into something meaningful, productive and beautiful and every human being needs that, particularly our kids. ~First Lady Michelle Obama~

 

The GRAMMY Museum’s Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon was held Wednesday, July 16, 2014.  First Lady Michelle Obama was this year’s special keynote speaker at the private luncheon held at L.A. Live’s Club Nokia.  

 

 Her message was powerfully succinct as she continues to encourage and empower our younger generations to whole-heartedly strive towards one’s goals. She also stressed the crucial importance of music education being a requirement in our schools curriculum. Our First Lady emphasized the importance of art and music classes within education.” Six million American children attend schools with no art or music classes.  When they don’t have that outlet, it’s such a tremendous loss, not just for our kids but for our nation.” 

 

This sentiment was echoed by Janelle Monae who attributed much of her success to having music in her life. She spoke of how music served as a way to release and to deal with her emotions. The luncheon honored the Grammy-nominated musician with this year’s Jane Ortner Artist Award.  Janelle spoke about how music assisted her, as it does many young people in the learning process.  Janelle also gave a special performance of several of her hit songs which included “Tightrope,” one of our First Lady Michelle Obama’s favorites. 

 

Jane Ortner was an extraordinary beloved public school teacher who brought music into her classrooms, not as a music teacher, but as a teacher who recognized the power of music to enhance the educational learning process of all children.

 

Also speaking at the luncheon were Chuck Ortner, GRAMMY Museum Board Member and Bob Santelli, Executive Director, GRAMMY Museum.

Teacher, Sunshine Cavalluzzi has carried on the teaching tradition of Jane Ortner.  Sunshine was awarded this year’s Jane Ortner Education Award which recognizes teachers of core subjects who use music as a teaching tool in their non-musical classes.

 

Providing additional entertainment were The GRAMMY Museum Student Musicians: Tatiyanna Belllo, Kafira Lefi, Schyler O ‘Neal and Kennady Tracy all of whom spoke of how music education has impacted  their lives and continues to enrich, empower and inspire them to  follow their hearts, their life paths and  fulfill their dreams.

 

The 2014 GRAMMY Museum‘s Jane Ortner Education Award Luncheon sends a poignant message to all because as French philosopher C.A. Helvetius would say, “l’education  nous faisait ce que nous sommes”. Translation; education makes us what we are.

 
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Woodshed Jazz Magazine

WoodshedJazz.com

Woodshed Jazz Magazine

WoodshedJazz.com

Written by Bridgid Brousseau

  

 

"Ain't no party like an Esco party cuz an Esco party don't stop!"

 

Thomas "Coke" Escovedo is known to most as a member of Santana remembered for hits such as "Everybody's Everything" and  the very funky "No One to Depend On". Coke and his brother Pete Escovedo would go on to form their own group Azteca in addition to touring with others such as Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock. Coke died at the age of 45 on July 13, 1986.

 

If you missed the Tribute to Coke Escovedo by the Paris Escovedo Band you missed the sound of music royalty. Paris is the son of the  legendary percussionist. Paris Escovedo has carried on his father's legacy with style, class and funk. From Oakland California, Paris  has played since he was a child and was given a drum set by Tito Puente. He has also performed as a percussionist  with Grammy-award-winning artists such as Angie Stone, Sheila E, Pete Escovedo, Collective Soul, and Arrested Development.  

 

The Paris Escovedo Band rocked the walls of H.O.M.E., House of Music and Entertainment in Beverly Hills. Who knew Paris could rap? Okay, I digress.  

 

The band maintains the sophisticated fusion of Jazz, Soul, and Latin elements. A poignant moment of the night came when a short video was played with snippets of Coke Escovedo's career. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Paris during this time and I could see and feel the deep emotion and love he carries for his late father.  This is one of the many things I admire about the Escovedos. They all have a strong family bond. Their music is a close family affiar and that's a wonderful thing.  

 

Speaking of family, that is what The Paris Escovedo Band reminded of. These gentlemen played together as if they were a family. The members truly complement each other. The smoothness with which they made the transitions and the way in which they "musically" finished each other's sentences was enthralling. This is what great music and entertainment is all about!  All members of the Paris Escovedo Band are consummate musicians who are involved artistically in various endeavors.

 

The band includes Musical Director and trombonist, Ken Tussing; George Pandis; on trumpet; Dan Heffernan;  saxophonist and flautist,  Bill Lymperis;  guitarist, Larry Houston; keyboardist, Nick Scaremack; drummer, Robert Benavides; vocalist, Gwen Fox; vocalist. Gwen also sang with Coke Escovedo. Also performing were Francesca Capasso; vocalist, Victor Orlando; percussionist and bassist; Scott "Bugs" Allen of the group 3rd Scenario. Pianist; Frank Mercurio also made a guest appearance.

 

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit H.O.M.E., it is the perfect place to be for the type of night when one isn't craving that wild night of partying and really loud music yet does not want to sit still. It's the place to" parchill," the perfect blend of party and chill. The ambiance is inviting because the lighting is not so dark as to scare you away yet light enough to see who you're talking to and determine whether or not you want to continue talking to them.   

 

The Paris Escovedo Band combines  a mixture of funk, and latin jazz.

The band closed the night out with Santana's hit "No One to Depend On' which was co-written by Coke Escovedo. He also performed hits from his CD "Hit Them Skins."  Which one can purchase online at the Cdbaby Music Store. If you missed the Paris Escovedo Band last night, not to worry.  The band has many performances coming up.  

 

Happiness is contagious! It was a joy to feel the spirit of Paris Escovedo  and watch the facial expressions that exuded passion and love for his his craft  that he and his band members have for music.  It was a joy to behold the expressions and reactions of the crowd 

  

I want to give a special "thank you" to H.O.M.E owner Dennis Anthony and a hearty hug and "thank you" to the beautiful and sophistacated Linda Pratt of Pratt & Associates for your kindness.

I am looking forward to coming H.O.M.E again soon!

 

To purchase your favorite songs from "Hit Them Skins go to: http://www.cdbaby.com

 

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