*Los Angeles – Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Southwest Neighborhood Council and Empowerment Congress Southwest Area presented the St. Andrews Jazz Festival at the St. Andrews Recreation Center.
This popular summer time festival was held on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017, during an extended 4th of July weekend for some people. This is the Second jazz festival under the wonderful leadership of Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, 8th District.
Thousands of jazz aficionados from throughout the Greater Los Angeles area as well as residents near the park, gathered on this beautiful afternoon to enjoy a day of cool jazz.
The day got under way with some hard bopping, straight-ahead jazz provided by Michael Session. I arrived just in time to catch the second set by the Elliott Caine Quintet. They played a wonderful set of modern jazz which consisted of many original tunes.
Next up was the dynamic smooth jazz delivered superbly by Donald Hayes, wailing away on saxophone. The crowd were grooving to the tunes provided during their set “Riverside Drive,” “Caught in the Rapture of Love,” “I Can’t Help How I Feel About You,” “Georgie Porgie,” and concluded their set with an outstanding arrangement of “Tell Me Something Good” by Chaka Khan.
Mongorama directed by Jose Rizo turned up the heat literally and figuratively on this already sunny, hot day in beautiful Southern California. This was an idea setting for their fiery, picante set of Latin Jazz, spiced with some contagious Salsa. This band was formed to honor the legacy of Mongo Santamaria. They kicked off their set with an original tune that will appear on an upcoming CD. The tune was “Mongorama,” followed by “Bacoso,” “Son Wamberi,” and closed with “Baila Que Baila.”
Jose Rizo assembled some talented musicians to form this band. Several members of the band are leaders in their own right as well as highly sought after sessions musicians. The band members are Danilo Lozano, Music Director/Flute, Justo Almario, tenor sax, Dayren Santamaria, violin, Ramon Banda, timbales, Joey De Leon, congas, Joe Rotundi, piano, James Zavaleta, lead vocals, Jonathan Pintoff, bass, Alfredo Ortiz, guiro, bell, bongos, vocals and Jose Rizo, himself as back up vocals.
R&B/Soul Balladeer/Crooner, Grammy Award Winning Howard Hewett rocked the proceedings like no other. His marvelous set featured the tunes “Just Stay,” “I’m for Real” a tune that he recorded with Stanley Clarke. He continued with “Once Twice, Three Times,” “Better Guy.” He brought back fond memories for the seasoned citizens who remembered him from back in the day with Shalamar. This portion of the set featured the tunes “Show Me,” “Second Time Around,” “Make That Move,” “This is for the Lover in You,” “A Night to Remember” while serenading a female member of the audience. He closed out his set by bringing church to St. Andrews Recreation Center with the tune that Thanked and Praised God “Say Amen.”
Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, 8th District, came onstage to welcome and thanked everyone for coming out to support this successful community event. He went on to thank everyone on his team for making this event possible and thanked the sponsors as well as the team from Empowerment Congress Southwest Area, under the leadership of Brent Page and Dr. Turner Roberts. Brent Page recognized and honored several Veterans with a Certificate of Appreciation.
California State Senator Steven Bradford, 35th District, extended an invite for everyone to attend the 15th Annual Gardena Jazz Festival, Sunday, August 27, 2017.
Jazz Festival organizers saved the best for last. Barbara Morrison once again closed out another highly successful St. Andrews Jazz Festival. The crowd did a cha cha or electric slide back to their car or home, if they lived closed to the venue.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]