Officially Summer: Playboy Jazz, Grub and Vin!!

jazz_beautiesWEBFather’s Day in LA means the Playboy Jazz Festival is kicking it at the Hollywood Bowl all weekend. What you get is a sun soaked day with food from Joan’s On Third and plenty of wine from both tBoW cellars [ed. including Dotorés “cabinet” once again bursting at the seams] and great live music, and LA’s most “diverse” collection of silly old folks testing the boundaries of self-control. Photos and wine reviews tell the tale.

Coctéles! The day begins with the Mr. C Cocktail that called for” mandarin puree, vodka preferably Yacht Club, lemon juice and Prosecco preferably Cipriani.” I guess when you name your own cocktail you get to call for the shit you prefer. We subbed in frozen orange juice and frozen fancy lemon juice carelessly defrosted on the ride to the Bowl, sparkling Vouvray (we prefer dry to fruity) and Slobovka vodka which Trader Joes carries. gregporter-2webThe result? A dry orangey iced beverage with profound zest of lemon that complemented Piedrito Martinez, a New Yorker by way of Cuba, and his off-key vocalist.

Grace Kelly and Phil Woods are a fortuitous pair. She is one quarter the master’s age [ed. we checked, 21 and 82]. They played a conventional set without much inspiration; like drinking a predictably pleasant and ordinary bottle of wine. She picked up her game with Woods on stage.

Vocalist Gregory Porter followed Kelly and Woods. He was heading for a pro football career when everything changed. Born in LA and raised in Bakersfield, Greg Porter performs wearing his “jazz hat” – a Kangol with the bill turned up. He paired it with with a white dinner jacket and red bow tie. Do not let that distract you. His voice is smooth, full and profoundly bass.verdiccio12WEB He can be very soulful and very NOT Jeffrey Osbourne (who closed the show). We were waiting to hear what he would present having been more impressed with his voice than song selections on an earlier CD. He did not disappoint.

2012 ColleStefano Verdicchio di Matelica $15: This lemon yellow wine was bright, flinty, dry. Like a Sauvignon Blanc. The wimmenfolk arrived just in time to suck this down in a few minits. A Dotoré pick from Woodland Hills Wine Co. 12%

Casey Benjamin

Casey Benjamin moves the needle

It does not happen every year. Every once in a while an artist is onstage who changes the direction of things like a boulder falling into the Truckee river creating a new pool for all the fish. There are plenty of artists who can charge up the crowd but many fewer who can move an entire genre.

The Robert Glasper Experiment did it this year. After sets of fairly typical classics chopped into four and 16 bars along came four musicians taking the sound to a new nexus where grunge meets rap meets sampling meets jazz. The group covers Nirvana’s Teen Spirit so the informed crowd recognized it. But …when they slipped into the Daft Punk #1 hit Get Lucky we slipped into musical nirvana. All eyes were on Casey Benjamin throughout the set with his red-braided bouffant announcing the arrival of the next decade’s leading jazz innovators. Please bring them back.

R12_VDF_RougeWEB2012 O. Lemasson R12 Vin de France Rouge $21: Olivier Lemasson made this “natural” wine that tastes like something Marcel Lapierre would make which makes sense since Lemasson trained with the deceased master of Beaujolais. The wine is so unlike red wines we are all so used to drinking. This is fresh without oak. Imagine you are drinking wine in 16th century France somewhere in the Languedoc sitting at a wooden table with the local farmers and trades people. How authentic is that? Consider the blend: 30% Grolleau, 20% Gamay, 20% Pineau d’aunis, 10% Côt and 20% Pinot Noir. bongo_ladyWEBFresh, fruity, dry, almost grainy. Robert Glasper will eventually become this wine. 11.5%

A day in the Playboy sun would not be complete without a butt shaking Mama. This year she was Angelique Kidjo. If you can dance to it her band plays it and she sings and swings to it. She shook it and the Bowl boogied. We loved that Hugh Masekela joined her and played a few of his hits. The place kicked it up a notch and suddenly there was skunkweed in the air and pipples in the aisles.

muscatdeminervoisWEB2011 Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois $12/split: One of the ways to tell if the dessert wine is good is to try it as a finish wine after a long day of slugging down other wines. This worked perfectly. Ripe peach flavors and golden color. In a split, we could share it with lovely neighbors who shared their cake all over us.JudithHillWEB This is a wine rarely seen round these parts. Picked it up at Total Yawn. Will have to return now. 11%

Late acknowledgements go out to Herbie Hancock and the novelty act Naturally 7, the Big Phat Band with superb guest singer Judith Hill, Poncho Sanchez with guest James Carter, and George Duke. The Playboy Jazz Festival always fills the range of high expectations in performers and personalities, occasionally exceeding them. Every now and then we get to catch a rising star like Hiromi or Jamie Cullen. We try to bring wines that will fit the ambience and meet the zeitgeist [ed. A to Z?]. This year everything fit like there’s a sea change in the world. I think that is correct.

Here is Robert Glasper and crew “making jazz cool again” with Casey Benjamin on his vocoder and key-tar. Definitely worth 10 minutes of your attention.

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