By Taylor Jordan
Cultural icons, international artists, legendary lions and musicians making new inroads in the industry will provide a little bit of everything for fans attending the 26th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20.
Diversity is the operative word for the artists presenting Americas classical music and cultural contribution to the world from 2:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
Bill Cosby, the nations favorite comedian, a jazz aficionado and Playboys favorite master of ceremonies for 24 of its 26 years in Los Angeles, will return as M.C. but for Saturday only. Taking over the announcing role for Fathers Day on Sunday will be guitarist/bandleader Kevin Eubanks, musical director of Jay Lenos Tonight Show Orchestra.
Joining Wynton Marsalis, trumpet virtuoso and the only jazz artist to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, and rhythm-and-blues queen Etta James on Saturday will be several artists whose names are equally familiar to fans, critics and international audiences.
Trumpeter Hugh Masekela will bring the eclectic mi of his South African homeland and fuse it with bebop and funk to find favor with new fans and satisfy devotees who have followed his raise to international fame since the 1960s.
Jazz and dance have been joined at the shaking hips since the musical art form emerged in the incubator of New Orleans at the turn of the century.
On Saturday, first-time Playboy performer Savion Glover will masterfully demonstrate current choreographic innovations. Triple mentored by dance legends Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory and Maurice Hines, the Tony Award winner for Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk and fancy footman will perform with his dance ensemble Ti Dii.
Saxophone master Charles McPherson, once a sizzling sideman with Charles Mingus, the man who really played Charlie Parkers alto parts for Clint Eastwoods award-winning film Bird and a dynamic leader, comes to Playboy after an impressive debut of his Tribute to Bird With Strings and Jump Street Suite at Lincoln Center. His quartet will include son Charles McPherson Jr. on drums, bassist Jeff Littleton and pianist Randy Porter.
Christian McBride, the old young man who backed Betty Carter and performed with Ray Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea and Pat Metheny, will demonstrate his versatility on the bass that also provided signature sounds for operatic legend Kathleen Battle, hip-hopper DAngelo and pop singing sensations Sting and Carly Simon.
Jose Rizo will show why his Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars, originally a band with such Latin leaders as Poncho Sanchez and Alex Acuna organized to party and play at B.B. Kings Jazz Club for the 10th anniversary of his KKJZ show, became more than a one-night stand. Salsa dancers and Latin jazz devotees will find it impossible to sit still Saturday when Rizos 16-piece ensemble hits the stage. And possibly the aisle, too.
Cosby and fans will find fun, again, with the mix of legends, masters and young lions in Cos of Good Music IX. The ninth installment of Cosbys favorites include monster saxman James Carter, adventurous trumpeter Wallace Roney, drummer Ndugu Chancler, pianist Geri Allen and bassist Dwayne Burno.
Rounding out the Saturday show will be Brian Culbertson with special guest Michael Lington, Yerba Buena and the Washington Preparatory High School Jazz Ensemble.
Headlining Sundays set will be ever-evolving trumpeter Roy Hargrove and his RH Factor; an all-star quartet featuring legends Wayne Shorter on sax, Dave Holland on bass, Herbie Hancock on piano and Brian Blade on drums; and Gerald Wilson, the Pied Piper of jazz who always assembles an awesome all-star orchestra of leaders whove checked their egos at the door to create musical magic. Singing along with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra will be jazz/blues vocalist Barbara Morrison.
One never knows what to expect with Hargrove, other than of course that itll be equally entertaining and enthralling. The 33-year-old trumpeter discovered by Wynton Marsalis during a visit to a Dallas arts high school has left the status of young lion and become a full-fledged stylistic master blending jazz traditions with a potpourri of pop, R&B, soul and Latin-Caribbean rhythms.
All international icons who bring different definitions to jazz, which all work to alternately reve up audiences, soothe souls and inspire sensuous sighs, Shorter, Holland, Hancock and Blade perform in a festival first together for their L.A. stop on an international tour.
Its pianist Michel Camilos first festival appearance, but it is doubtful itll be his last when he thrills audiences with his mix of jazz, classical, Latin and world music. Drummer Horatio El Negro Hernandez and bassist Charles Flores will play with the winner of the best Latin jazz album at the Latin Grammy Awards.
Stylistically diverse sounds from Nigerian singer/saxophonist Femi Kuti, banjo Grammy winner Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, singer/pianist Peter Cincotti, steel guitarist Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Katia Moraes and Samgaguru will be heard Sunday. BWB, the initials for smooth-jazz trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown, also plays Sunday.
Limited tickets are still available for the musical weekend by calling the bowl box office, (323) 850-2000 or logging on to www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment. All patrons, including children, must have a ticket for admittance.
Safety and fire regulations require the aisles and walkways of the Hollywood Bowl to be clear at all times. Therefore, all large containers and coolers measuring more than 15-inches wide and 22-inches long and all kegs, pony kegs and party ballas of beer will not be permitted past the ticket gate.
There is a no-smoking policy inside the theater. Smoking is only permitted outside of the theater seating area on the bowl grounds.