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Playboy Jazz ‘05 Mixes Musical Genres and Eclectic Shows

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By Taylor Jordan

Legends and lions will stir the potpourri of the jazz pot and offer an appetizing gourmet of diverse music for Playboy Jazz Festival’s 27th annual outing June 11 and 12 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Although jazz is still in its title, Playboy is really no longer a genuine jazz event in the exemplary tradition of Montreux, North Sea or Monterey.  It has evolved into a hybrid musical mix presenting stuff atypical of America’s classical creation and gift to the world of culture.

Elements of jazz genius exist in the persona of vocal queen DeeDee Bridgewater, trumpet virtuoso Jon Faddis, Cuban bass grand-daddy Israel “Cachao” Lopez, legendary guitarist Kenny Burrell, trend-setting drummer chico Hamilton and famous family members Percy, Jimmy and Albert “Tottie” Heath, the extraordinary bassist, saxophonist and drummer collectively called The Heath Brothers.

Modern masters George Benson, Stix Hooper, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. John and Ramsey Lewis will carry banners of excellence set by ancestral pioneers, raining the torches higher with their individual devotion and mastery of skills.

Sizzling saxophonist Joshua Redman, “old soul” bluesman Keb’Mo’, rhythm-and-blues balladeer Peabo Bryson, look-so-good-and-play-so-well saxman Everette Harp, grown-up child prodigies Gilberto Santa Rosa and Gordon Goodwin and jazz-funk-ballad vibraphonist Roy Ayers will offer cutting edges of musical diversity popular with both ardent fans looking for a good time and astute critics searching for exciting, distinctive differences.

Producer George Wein, the man most famous as the creator Newport Jazz Festival and the Pied Piper for the true jazz artists featured in the Playboy Enterprises Inc. presentations in Los Angeles, revealed that Playboy will continue its habit of mixing it up musically at the Playboy Jazz Festival.

The performers represent all styles of jazz - straight-ahead, swing, big band, Afro-Cuban, bebop and blues - as well as music not normally favored by jazz aficionados and serious fans.  The diversity reflects the fact that many musical expressions have been heavily influenced and flavored with elements of fundamental jazz principles, including contemporary pop, rhythm-and-blues, salsa, world music and hip-hop.

Wein noted in the March two press conference at the Playboy Mansion that the festival will offer a little bit of something for everyone.  He and Playboy Enterprises publicist Rob Hilburger wisely advised folks to stop stalling and buy bowl tickets now.  They predicted sold-out status for both the 2:30 to 11 p.m. June 11 and the 2 to 10:30 p.m. shows o­n June 11 and 12, respectively.

Tickets are currently available by mail order o­nly.  Patrons interested in purchasing tickets now may request a mail-order form by calling (310) 449-4070.  Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, beginning May 7, or at the Hollywood Bowl box office.  A ticket order form can also be downloaded from the Playboy Jazz Festival website, www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment.

Fans needing park-and-ride information may call (323) 850-2000 and those interested in o­n-site parking may call the same number.  The no-smoking policy in the theater area, fire regulation to keep aisles and walkways clear and cooler size limitations - measuring no more than 15-inches wide and high and 32-inches long - continue for all patrons.  No kegs, pony kegs and party balls of beer are allowed past the ticket gate.

Hilburger said the festival will continue its proud tradition of presenting up-and-coming artists as well as some young lions at the free community concerts to be held May 1, 3:00 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza; May 6 at 11 a.m. at the Bradley Seniors Center in Watts; and May 28, 29 and 30, 11 a.m. to sundown for Playboy Jazz at the Pasadena Summerfest.  The popularity of the Memorial Day weekend concerts in Pasadena increased so significantly that the shows will be held in the Rose Bowl this year, he said.

Favorite festival master of ceremonies Bill Cosby will not return this year.  Kevin Eubanks, guitarist, composer and leader of The Tonight Show band, will serve as M.C. o­n Sunday.  The Saturday host will be announced at a later date.

The full festival line-up includes:
Saturday, June 11 - Boney James, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Keb’Mo’, Israel “Cachao” Lopez y Su Orquesta, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra Legacy: A Celebration featuring DeeDee Bridgewater and Jon Faddis and Norman Brown’s Summer Storm starring Peabo Bryson, Brenda Russell and Everette Harp.

Rounding out the Saturday show are Joey DeFrancesco and Kenny Burrell in a tribute to late, great Hammond B-3 jazz organist Jimmy Smith, Jazz Crusaders co-founder Stix Hooper and Viewpoint, the Jazz Tap Ensemble and Caravan Project, and the Los Angeles Multi-School Jazz Band directed by Reggie Andrews.

Sunday, June 12 - George Benson,the Saxophone Summit featuring Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman, Dr. John, Gilberto Santa Rosa, The Heath Brothers featuring Jimmy, Percy and Albert “Tootie” Heath and Jeb Patton, Chico Hamilton and Euphoria, Roy Ayers, deKah Hip-Hop Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’ Big Phat Band, Ledisi and the North Hollywood High School Jazz Band directed by Jonathan Kenion.

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