LA’s BEST All Day Party – the Playboy Jazz Festival

San Francisco Jazz Collective at the Bowl

Another year another day eating delectables from Joan’s On Third, drinking excellent wines (Margerum Klickitat Pinot Gris, 7 Hearts Pinot Noir and Rousanne, Huet Sparkling Vouvray and a perfect Provencal Ros√©) and listening to a superb lineup of contemporary and classic jazz musicians. Just like the world of wine…the world of this music festival in the Hollywood Bowl has changed for the better. Somebody new must be choosing the acts. The familiar formula predictably placed the smart fresh faces – Hiromi, Jamie Cullen – in the early part of the day. A suitably sedate act performed for the dinner hour followed by 2 or 3 headliners – big classic names like Stanley Turrentine or Kenny Burrell – with a closing act that could not finish quick enough – Al Jarreau still haunts me – so everyone can catch the bus to the parking lot.

sister Anat Cohen

Things changed in 2010 and have thankfully continued in 2011. The fresh face in the early part was Ambrose Akinmusire, a trumpet player invoking Miles whose performance let everyone know Ambrose is a classic in the making.

her brother Avi

The Rebirth Brass Band from Nawlins got everyone waving their hankies and their successors the San Francisco Jazz Collective brought us back to serious classic jazz. They covered Stevie Wonder like we never heard before.

The dinner hour was handled by LA’s own Dianne Reeves. She was hardly dowdy or sedate. No. She was powerful and full of class; an artist at her full measure. Eddie Palmieri’s Salsa Orchestra picked up the tempo with what might have been MOR salsa except this was salsa jazz. We have seen Pancho Sanchez and Coke Esquevedo perform at this festival and they are good time salsa. Fun but derivative.

Eddie Palmieri

This outfit was jazzy and hot.

The killer act was the final performance, a spot ready made for packing up, finding missing binoculars and other housekeeping. The Roots did not allow anything less than full attention. Think Chuck D (Public Enemy) meets Jimmy Page with a rocking tuba. They rocked the house with jazzy hip hop. lyrics and rhythms. When the guitarist launched into Guns ‘n Roses Sweet Child which segued into Led Zeppelin and transformed into Bad to the Bone…we knew this was not the Old Playboy magic. This was something new, reinvented, with passion. No kidding this time.

Here is a cool video from Saturday with Bill Cosby meeting all the acts backstage prior to going on.

Here is an artist we wish had played!!!

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