*Long Beach, CA – The stage was set with all of the right elements for another successful summer of music at the 23rd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. The festival was held at the beautiful grass knoll of the Rainbow Lagoon, August 13-15, 2010.
The right elements that were in place were an international food court, clothing’s and other accessories booths, a multi-ethnic eclectic crowd. Noticeable absent were the scorching hot weather from festival past. The weather was pleasant 80’s with a constant breeze. A smorgasbord of jazz, Latin jazz, soul/R&B and smooth jazz nourished the crowd’s hearts.
Friday night the crowd was treated to a set from Jazz Search winners to kick off the festival. Making a good first impression on the crowd were Anne Mack who sang “In Walked Bud,” and Matilda Haywood performing “Cheek to Cheek.” The Jazz Search winner for 2010 was vocalist/producer Darrin “D.Note” Milton the son of legendary trumpeter Clora Bryant.
Legends 1- The Jazz Crusaders came out swinging hard with their signature sound of hard bop marinated in soul with “On Broadway,” and “The Thing” from their extensive catalog of hits. The reunion announcement of The Jazz Crusaders was met with much excitement and anticipation. The members of the band lived up to the hype and received a standing ovation at the end of their set. The members of the band featured Joe Sample-piano, Wayne Henderson-trombone, Euge Groove-saxophone, Nate Sample-bass, and Maurice Lucas on drums. Check out their website for tour dates that may arrive in a city near you soon.
Saxophonist Boney James has recaptured his energy in an emotionally heartfelt and spiritually uplifting performance much to the delight of his adoring fans. He closed out the opening night of the festival.
Legends 2-Jazz composer/keyboardist/producer/arranger has a distinguish history of producing critically acclaim CD’s in tribute to the late great Grover Washington Jr. On Saturday, he assembled an All-Star cast of legends and band leaders in their own right for a Tribute to Grover Washington Jr. How’s this for a band: Ronnie Laws-sax, Tom Scott-sax, Chante Moore-vocals, and Paul Jackson Jr., on guitar. It doesn’t get any better than this. The band performed “Mr. Magic,” “Just The Two of Us,” “Take Me There,” and “Let It Flow” written for basketball legend Dr.J.
Several dynamic vocalists helped to contribute to a soulful music experience on Saturday. Vocalist Karen A. Clark and Melanie Fiona graced the stage in different sets and thoroughly engaged a captivated crowd. Mark Allen Felton, Shilts, Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler with special guest Sheila E. were also superb on Saturday.
Legends 3-Bassist Marcus Miller and trumpeter Christian Scott are touring extensively all across the United States and overseas. The group is receiving rave reviews for “Tutu Revisited”. Marcus Miller composed and arranged the title track and several other tunes on Tutu for the late great Miles Davis. Tutu is a Grammy Award winning CD to honor Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I found myself getting carried away with the crowd by tapping my feet, shaking my head and swaying my body from side to side throughout their set. They riled up the crowd with the following tunes “Thomas,” “Splash,” “Jon Pierre,” and a beautiful ballad “In a Sentimental Mood” performed on the bass clarinet by Marcus Miller. They concluded their set with “Tutu.”
Sunday, also featured several additional dynamic vocalist. Andrea Palm performed with the Al Williams Jazz Society, and Goapele stepping up to the plate as a replacement for Laura Izibor. The crowd was able to get their groove on with the sounds of The Next Great Drummer; Al Jarreau backed up by the George Duke Trio and concluded with some spicy Latin jazz provided by Poncho Sanchez.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected].