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Playboy Jazz Festival Continues Tradition of Free Jazz

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The Playboy Jazz Festival sizzles with free swinging sets in Beverly Hills, Watts, Los Angeles and Pasadena to launch its silver anniversary celebration.

The 2003 community concerts could be designated as double silver since the Playboy Jazz Festival’s 1979 West Coast premiere also commemorated the magazine’s silver anniversary. The magazine celebrates its golden 50th birthday this year. Playboy Enterprises additionally commemorates the 25th silver presentation of jazz at the Hollywood Bowl with paid performances June 14 and 15.

The free concerts will be held May 4 at the Beverly Hills Civic Center, May 9 inside Phoenix Hall of the Bradley Senior Citizen Center in Watts, May 18 at the Conga Room in Los Angeles and May 24, 25 and 26 over the Memorial Day weekend at the Old Pasadena Summer Fest. The free events conclude June 12 with the screening of archivist Mark Cantor’s “Jazz on Film” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Electric violinist Susie Hansen and her 9-piece Latin jazz band will headline the 3 p.m. show in Beverly Hills this Sunday, May 4. Also appearing will be Frank Marocco, the most recorded accordionist in America, and his quartet.

Hansen combines elements of jazz and Latin music to create an eclectic signature sound. She uses traditional Cuban charanga, a predecessor of salsa; driving Afro-Cuban rhythms and the compelling harmonies of straight-ahead jazz for an infectious, high-voltage style to get the audience on its feet.

Marocco is a veteran of hundreds of recording dates. He has performed on numerous movie soundtracks, television scores, record albums and commercial jingles. He has recorded and performed with Brian Wilson, Madonna, Pink Floyd, Luciano Pavorotti and composer John Williams. He has twice received the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ Most Valuable Player Award and has been nominated for the award for eight consecutive years.

The Los Angeles Multi-School Alumni Jazz Band will be the primary performers at the 11 a.m. May 9 concert in Watts. The ten instrumentalists and director Reggie Andrews will present a medley of classics composed and made classics by such jazz legends as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and others.

The Los Angeles alumni band includes graduates of Locke, Los Alamitos, Lynchwood and Washington Preparatory high schools, Hamilton High School Academy of Music and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. This concert is sponsored by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

The Conga Room artist will be announced at a later date.

Playboy Jazz Festival at the Old Pasadena Summer Fest will feature three days of music in the city’s Central Park over Memorial Day weekend.

The May 24 lineup includes Mindi Abair, Jose Rizo’s Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, Victor Fields, Brian Hughes, Rayford Griffin and Rebirth of the Cool and Baba Alade.

Euge Groove, Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Orchestra, Christy Baron, Jon Mayer and Ernie Watts Project, Elnora and Sumpthin’s Cookin’ and L.A. Mambo Combo Latin Jazz Ensemble will play on May 25.

The May 26 performers include Greg Adams, Pasadena Jazz Orchestra, Spanky Wilson, Cal Bennett, Sal Cracchiolo and Melanie Jackson, and Buddy Reed.

Additional information on the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl or the free concerts: (310) 449-4070.

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