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The Ultimate Jazz Festival Green, Smooth Jazz and Old School

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By Ricky Richardson –

The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival was held on Saturday, August 6th and Sunday, August 7th, in a new venue, Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, California. This was a very relaxing setting, with lots of trees for shade. A large energetic crowd was on hand to get their groove on. Festival organizers considered this to be the jazz event of the summer. The reason is that The Ultimate Jazz Festival is known for its flare of uniqueness in bringing together musicians from different genres of music to one stage including Latin, R&B, Funk and Smooth Jazz.

Saturday, Leonard Robinson, Program Host, KDEE 97.5 FM, Sacramento returned as Master of Ceremonies. Shilts kicked off the festival with material from his current CD’s. The crowd and I were swaying and bopping as Shilts sweetened up his set with “Sugar” by the late great saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and concluded his hot set with some cool “Short Island Ice Tea.” DJ Wynn spun tracks in between bands. He kept up the momentum of the party. No party would be complete without "Stepping Dance" and "Cupid Shuffle."

Urban Jazz Coalition plays a unique blend of smooth R&B jazz. The emcee described the band as being a blend of The Jazz Crusaders and Spyra Gyra. Their repertoire included original composition “Saguaro Sunset” and a rousing version of “Birdland” which is a tune that has been recorded by many well known artists.

Nick Collionne is considered The Ultimate Jazz Festival Green, Smooth Jazz and Old School the best dressed smooth jazz guitarist on the scene. He is always dressed sharp from head to toe. He charmed his way into the hearts of the crowd with his humorous conversation. The highlight of his set featured a crowd pleasing version “A Rainy Night in Georgia.” Nick and his band got down with the blues on “Whose Making Dirty Dishes with You.” Pieces of a Dream is an American R&B/jazz group from Philadelphia. The group was formed in 1976 by bassist Cedric Napoleon, drummer Curtis Harmon, and keyboardist James Lloyd. They performed a solid set of original tunes from their extensive catalog. Their set consisted of “Wake Up Call,” “Anywhere You Are,” “Mount Airy Groove” — everyone was able to stretch out on this tune.

Tony! Toni! Tone crashed out their Oakland neighborhood in 1988 with Gold debut album “Who?” which spawned the hit “Little Walter.” In 1990, to both critical and popular acclaim, their second album The Revival garnered four #1 hits. The band continues to tour the United States performing more than 600 sold out concerts. Cameo concluded day one of the festival on a high note. Sunday, day two of The Ultimate Jazz continued on a beautiful day. The line-up featured saxophonist Jessy J, flutist Althea Rose, Jeff Golub, Euge Groove, and closed out with Keith Sweat.

The Ultimate Jazz Festival is produced by Jazz to be Green, a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness about energy efficiency, green environment, and green jobs through the art of jazz. Their goal is to develop partnerships with local utility companies to create forums for sharing information on how our community can save money by using less energy during their daily activities and in their homes. They are a proud supporter of the Lupus Foundation. A portion of The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival will be donated to this worthy cause.

3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival Brings Jazz, Funk and Soul

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By Natasha Ferguson –

Get ready for the jazz event of the summer — the 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival theultimatejazzfestival. com takes place.

Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7 in a new venue at Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, Calif. Festival gates open at 11 a.m. both days. Hours are Saturday from Noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 7 p.m.

The Ultimate Jazz Festival is known for its flare of uniqueness in bringing together musicians from different genres of music to one stage including Latin, R&B, Soul and Funk. This year’s festival brings some of the hottest acts to the Inland Empire.

On Saturday August 6 festival-goers will enjoy the cool sounds of saxophonist Shilts, Urban Jazz Coalition, guitarist Nick Colionne, R&B group Pieces of a Dream with Ramona Dunlap, Tony! Toni! Toné! and old school funkateers Cameo.

Tony! Toni! Toné! first came onto the music scene in 1988 with smash hits like “Little Walter,” “Feels Good,” and “It Never Rains”. The group reformed in 2006 with members; D’Wayne Wiggins, Timothy Christian Riley and Amar Khalil.

They have been touring around the globe to sell out crowds and were featured on Alicia Keys’ 2004 platinum album, “Diary”.

Their sixth album is scheduled to be released in 2012. Old school funk group Cameo are sure to have festival-goers on their feet dancing to their funky sounds as they close out the festival on Saturday. Founded by lead singer Larry Blackmon, Cameo has been around since the early 1970s. Attendees will groove to hits like “Word Up”, “Candy”, “Shake Your Pants” and more!

Sunday August 7 is flutist Althea Rene, the sexy sounds of saxophonist Jessy J, guitarist Jeff Golub, saxophonist Euge Groove, and R&B singer Keith Sweat.

Sweat’s smooth silky voice and sexy lyrics have guided him to the top of R&B charts worldwide, as well as earned him the title of ‘Favorite Male R&B/Soul Artist’ in 1997 by American Music Awards and numerous other nominees.

The Ultimate Jazz Festival is produced by Jazz to be Green, a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness about energy efficiency, green environment, and green jobs through the art of jazz. They are a proud supporter of the Lupus Foundation and will be donating a portion of the proceeds to this worthwhile cause.

General admission is $45 and VIP $160. Two day passes, group and table rates are also available. VIP ticket holders will be treated to an intimate up close prime seat in a shaded area, VIP parking, delicious full course gourmet dinner with dessert, and one beverage (beer or wine).

To purchase tickets call 1-800-595-4849, or visit www.theultimatejazzfestival.com.

102nd NAACP Convention Features Screening Of 'The Help'

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DreamWorks Pictures’ highly anticipated new feature film “The Help,” an uplifting drama set in the segregated South of the 1960s, will be presented in a special advanced screening at the 102nd NAACP National Convention on July 27, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 in Downtown Los Angeles.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with stars Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard, screenwriter- director Tate Taylor and author Kathryn Stockett, on whose acclaimed debut novel the film is based. The evening will also feature a special guest, the pioneering civil rights leader and former NAACP Chairman Myrlie Evers-Williams, who will join in the panel discussion, providing a first-hand perspective on the tumultuous times against which the film is set. The announcement was made today by Vic Bulluck, Executive Director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, which is hosting the event.

Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, “The Help” focuses on three very different, extraordinary women in 1960s Mississippi who forge an unlikely bond around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all a risk. It opens in theaters nationwide on August 10.

“The Help” is a powerful film that tells the story of a generation of African-American women who shaped this country in their own transformative way. It reminds us of the power of one person to make a difference and inspires us to be as courageous as they were, as we seek to affirm America's promise," said Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP Chairman of the Board.

Dr. Thelma T. Daley, Director, Women in the NAACP, praised “The Help” as “fantastically appealing,” and added, “It’s captivating, provocative, emotionally moving and sprinkled with humorous moments. The power of the maids conveys the value of dignity in honest work, and the grace and style of strong women who know how to survive and climb the symbolic stairs of hope, even in the midst of adversities.”

“The Help” is a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of three women, two African-American housekeepers and one white recent college graduate, whose worlds intersect at a pivotal time in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s movement,” added Vic Bulluck, who will moderate the discussion.

“Its message aligns perfectly with the values and mission of the NAACP and we applaud writer Kathryn Stockett and the filmmakers, cast and DreamWorks Studios for bringing this story to the screen.” “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”), Academy Award® nominee Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and Octavia Spencer (“Seven Pounds”), as three women whose improbable alliance results in a remarkable sisterhood. Their friendship instills each of them with the courage to transcend the racial and gender lines that define them—even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the dramatic social transformation sweeping the nation.

Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, “The Help” is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change. The film also stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“Hereafter”), Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life”), Mary Steenburgen (“Step Brothers”), Sissy Spacek (“Big Love”) and Cicely Tyson (“Why Did I Get Married Too?”).

Myrlie Evers-Williams is Chairman Emeritus of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP. She served as NAACP Chairman from 1995 to 1998. Together with her late husband, Medgar Evers, Myrlie opened and managed the first NAACP Mississippi State Office in the mid-1950s.

Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963, but his killer would not be convicted until 1994, ByronDe La Beckwith was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Evers-Williams is the author of “Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be” and co-author of “For Us, The Living,” which chronicles the life of her late husband and the civil rights struggle in Mississippi.

2011 BET Awards Winners

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The hilarious Kevin Hart kept the crowd laughing out loud as a Hollywood House Husband during the BET AWARDS ‘11 opening act with Bobby Brown, Jermaine Dupri, Anthony Anderson, Nelly, and Nick Cannon. Chris Brown’s powerful performance medley of “She Ain’t You,” “Look at Me Now,” and “Paper Scissor Rock” illustrated just why he was named the 2011 Best Male R&B Artist, Video of the Year, Best Collaboration, and Coca-Cola Viewer’s Choice Award winner when he took to the stage in two performances collaborating with Busta Rhymes and Big Sean. Later, a precocious Justin Bieber propositioned Nicki Minaj on stage when he said, “I’m all grown up now. I turn 18 next year so...what’s up?”

Legendary songstress and diva extraordinaire Patti LaBelle was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award and her tribute was a performance unlike anything ever seen before. Beginning with a special introduction from another musical icon, Gladys Knight, Cee Lo Green took to the stage in a throwback Patti LaBelle costume performing “Somebody Loves You Baby,” while Marsha Ambrosius jazzed up the room with her spot on rendition of “If Only You Knew,” before the great Shirley Ceasar took the crowd—and Patti LaBelle—to tears singing “You Are My Friend.” But it was Patti herself that brought the house down performing two of her greatest hits, “Love, Need and Want You” and “Lady Marmalade.” Steve Harvey uplifted the audience in his acceptance speech for his Humanitarian Award.

The cast of the Five Heartbeats movie surprised the audience with a reunited performance with R&B crooners After 7 with the famous hit, “Nights Like This," for the 20- year anniversary of the film. The beautiful Kerry Washington graced the stage for BET's Shine A Light moment to honor individuals who make the world a better place for young people.

Celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of her first album, Songs In A Minor, Alicia Keys graced the BET AWARDS ‘11 stage for a medley of her hits with Bruno Mars and Rick Ross as well as for the world premiere her latest song, “Typewriter."

Additional highlights of the 14 performances include: Trey Songz sexy, shirt-ripping rendition of “Making Love Faces” and “Unusual,” and was later joined by Kelly Rowland to perform her smash hit, "Motivation"; Donnie McClurkin, Deitrick Haddon and Mary Mary uplifted the audience with their rendition of the gospel hit, “Thank You Lord,” in tribute to the late Walter Hawkins; Mary J. Blige, Anita Baker, DJ Khaled, and Jadakiss kicked off the show with a monumental mix of hits “All Night Long,” “Joy,” “Happy,” Dreams,” “Real Love,” "Rapture," and “Over Til It’s Over”; Jill Scott performed a soulful rendition of “Rolling Hills” with actor and DJ Idris Elba; DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Drake and Lil’ Wayne amped the crowd performing “I’m the One”; and Beyoncé closed the show singing “Best Thing I Never Had” and “End of Time” via live telecast from Britain's Glastonbury Festival.

This year's In Memoriam tribute celebrated the lives of Cali Swag District member M-Bone, Clarence Clemons, Teena Marie, Gil Scott Heron and Nate Dogg with performances and appearances by Doug E. Fresh and Cali Swag District, Queen Lat ifah, Ledisi , Scott Mayo, Snoop Dogg and Warren G.

In continuing the good that BET's S.O.S.: Saving Ourselves initiative has made over the years, the BET AWARDS ‘11 contained a special moment to show support for the victims of the tornadoes in the Southeast through a special message from Rev. Al Sharpton.

In addition to all of these spectacular moments, the full list of BET AWARDS ‘11 winners are:

• Best Female R&B Artist: Rihanna

• Best Male R&B Artist: Chris Brown

• Best Group: Diddy-Dirty Money

• Best Gospel Artisit: Mary Mary

• Best Female Hip Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj

• Best Male Hip Hop Artist: Kanye West

• Best New Artist: Wiz Khalifap> • Best Collaboration: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes “Look At Me Now”

• Video of the Year: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes "Look At Me Now”

• Video Director of the Year: Chris Robinson

• Best Actress: Taraji P. Henson

• Best Actor: Idris Elba

• Young Stars Award: Jaden Smith and Willow Smith

• Best Movie: For Colored Girls

• Subway Sportwoman of the Year: Serena Williams

• Subway Sportman of the Year: Michael Vick

• Centric Award: Marsha Ambrosius “Far Away”

• Best International Act: 2Face Idibia (Nigeria) and D’Banj (Nigeria)

• Coca-Cola Viewer’s Choice Award: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes - "Look at me Now"

• Humanitarian Award: Steve Harvey

• Lifetime Achievement Award: Patti LaBelle

24th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival Set August 12-14

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Rainbow Promotions presents the 24th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, Friday-Sunday August 12-14, 2011, a festive summertime setting at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach. In keeping with this year’s peoplepleasing theme, “Jazz—The Way You Like It,” Rainbow Promotions has once again prepared the perfect cross pollination of “fan favorites” from the worlds of contemporary jazz and R&B to tantalize the tastes of the festival’s perennial attendees.

This year’s mighty line-up features electrifying legendary singer Charlie Wilson (former member of the GAP Band), Quiet Storm popular artist KEM, thrilling bandleader/ multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson, the magnificently mellow Michael Franks, slow jam treasures The Whispers, all-around jazz sax master Everette Harp, plus two very special pairings : smooth groovin’ saxophonist Kim Waters with R&B singer Kenny Lattimore and the “Smooth Side of Soul,” collaboration with saxophone legend Najee, veteran piano man Alex Bugnon and R&B crooner supreme Howard Hewett. And that’s just a taste of a three-day musical feast!

As one of Southern California’s longest running and eagerly anticipated annual music events, the Long Beach Jazz Festival brings music lovers from around the world –year after year- with its always dynamic blend of sounds and unique coastal venue offering relaxation for every generation.

A family affair, party people of all ages enjoy the festival grounds, the various food vendors with mouthwatering multicultural on-site prepared delights and desserts and, of course, some of the finest music and top artists for everyone’s listening pleasure. Veteran promoter and musician Al Williams, as is his tradition, will be gracing the stage on Sunday afternoon with his eclectic Al Williams Jazz Society, celebrating the popularity of their latest CD, Something to Groove About.

Williams states, “More than ever before, we really listened to the people to bring them the jazz and jazzy R&B stars they love the best. I truly believe this is one of the most exciting 3-day lineups we’ve had in quite some time…and we’ve had some thrillers!”

On Friday August 12, Brian Culbertson brings his full throttle band of rhythm and horns as the headliner of opening night, followed by jazzy R&B mavericks “Smooth Side of Soul featuring Najee, Howard Hewett and Alex Bugnon. The evening will begin at sundown with the sweet sounds of singer/songwriter Kori Withers (daughter of the R&B griot Bill Withers, as seen in his acclaimed new documentary, “Still Bill”).

On Saturday August 13, romance and reminiscing will fill the air with soulful swingin’ harmonies of The Whispers, poetic jazz man Michael Franks (who will be drawing from his latest release Time Together), the dynamic duo of Kim Waters & Kenny Lattimore, jazzy neo soul princess Amel Larrieux, and effervescent sax great Everette Harp (playing straight ahead and contemporary jazz). The day will begin with the heartbeat of the drums as the Long Beach Jazz Festival presents this year’s winner of “The Next Great Drummer!”

On Sunday August 14, soul lovers will be knocked out by the one-two punch of adopted “LBC” Godfather Charlie Wilson and firmly established superstar KEM. Jazz will be in plentiful supply thanks to Al Williams’ Jazz Society and urban jazz up-and-comer saxophonist Jackiem Joyner, plus horn-fortified funkologists Down to the Bone, and this year’s winner of the festival’s annual “Jazz Search” Winner (tba).

Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions at (562) 424-0013, or online at www.longbeachjazzfestival.com VIP tickets--$155 on Friday and $180 per seat on Saturday and Sunday—include dinner and wine service. Reserved box seat tickets are $60 on Friday and $75 per seat on Saturday and Sunday. General admission/ lawn seating is $45 (prior to August 5th) and $50 at the gate. Friday-Gates open at 5pm. Saturday and Sunday- Gates open at 11:00am.

This year’s sponsors for the 24th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival are US Bank, Budweiser and Charter Communications.

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