*Comedian George Lopez is taking over as master of ceremonies of the 35th annual Playboy Jazz Festival.
The announcement and the reveal of this year’s lineup was made Thursday at the iconic Playboy Mansion on the rear lawn near the pool and grotto.
“I’ve never been here before,” chuckled Lopez as he glanced around the grounds. “I was married for 17 years. I couldn’t even have a Playboy air freshener.”
Last year Bill Cosby stepped down as the host after serving since the inaugural festival in 1979 and introducing audiences to his “Cos of Good Music,” his handpicked band of jazz greats. Lopez said Cosby offered this advice, “Don’t let the musicians in your dressing room because they’ll eat all your food and drink all your drink.”
The two-day lineup will surely satisfy all jazz palates with performances by the Sheila E., India.Arie, Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Gregory Porter, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Robert Glasper Experiment and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
Music legend Quincy Jones will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday with the special performance by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra featuring Patti Austin and Hubert Laws.
This year’s show will offer some great collaborations featuring George Duke with Jeffrey Osborne; Naturally 7 with Herbie Hancock; Angelique Kidjo with Hugh Masekela; Ole Coltrane with Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band, James Carter; Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band with Lee Ritenour; Grace Kelly Quintet with Phil Woods; Pedrito Martinez Group with Ariacne Trujillo; Bob James/David Sanborn, Steve Gadd, James Genus; Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Patti Austin, Hubert Laws; Taj Mahal and the Real Thing Tuba Band; and Elew and Jazzantiqua Dance Ensemble.
Student band performances include the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jason Goldman and The LAUSD Beyond the Bell Jazz Band under the direction of Tony White and J.B. Dyas.
Playboy Jazz will hold two free community concerts in Beverly Hills on Sunday, May 5 and at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on June 2. The Playboy Jazz Festival is scheduled for June 15 and 16 at the Hollywood Bowl.