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Etta James Will Belt Out the Blues at Playboy Jazz Sunday

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By Taylor Jordan

Etta James
Etta James, the reigning diva of rhythm-and-blues and a National Academy of Recording Arts and Science lifetime achiever, will do what she does best at the Playboy Jazz Festival's Sunday show in the Hollywood Bowl: sing from the depths of her being and push people to their dancing feet.

The 29th annual outing of the Playboy Jazz Festival this Saturday and Sunday will offer a musical mix to alternatively tune up people's toe-tapping rhythms and soothe the savage beasts of work and weekday tedium. Entertainer Bill Cosby again serves as master of ceremonies.

James, a Riverside resident now who was born in Los Angeles, raised in San Francisco and won the hearts of music lovers worldwide, will be among the Sunday headliners.

The Saturday show from 2:30 to 11 p.m. will feature bluesman Buddy Guy, trumpeter Chris Botti, master saxophonists Phil Woods with Bill Charlap, Brian Lynch, Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin, Afro-Cuban balladeer Isaac Delgado, sizzling songstress Angelique Kidjo, the County Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes, young saxophone lion James Carter Organ Trio and Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad.

Carter will also perform in the 2007 version of the Cos of Good Music featuring bassists Dwayne Burno and Ron Johnson, drummer Ndugu Chancler, saxophonist Vincent Herring, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianist Larry Willis and guitarist/vocalist Ray Parker Jr.

Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker, his brother, will co-lead with Grammy-winning saxophonist Bill Evans, the Saturday salute to the late, great jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker. The Brecker brothers helped blend the sounds of jazz, rhythm-and-blues and rock and enjoyed critical, artistic and fan approval for more than two decades for their pioneering and cutting edge collaborations and solo turns. They won two Grammys this year for their last collaboration, "Some Skunk Funk."

Evans is equally well-known as a keyboardist, producer and writer. Also a pioneer, he was among the first to blend hip-hop and jazz and was instrumental in putting together Miles Davis' 1980s' comeback band. Together since 2003 as the Randy Brecker-Bill Evans Soulbop Band, the duo will offer soul, bebop, hardbop and contemporary jazz for their Saturday set. Playing with them will be Hiram Bullock, Dave Kikoski, Victor Bailey and Rodney Holmes.

The Eagle Rock High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Greg Samuel, will open on Saturday.

James, a Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame honoree and three-time Grammy winner, will take center stage on Sunday and passionately prove how she won the title of high priestess of the blues.

Born in 1938 as Jamesetta Hawkins, she began singing in the church at age 5. She was only 15 when famous R&B bandleader Johnny Otis discovered her, reversed her first name and set the stage for her to become a household name musically on five continents. It took only one year for her to get her first hit recording, "Roll With Me, Henry," in 1954.

James toured extensively through the 1950s and 1960s, appearing and performing with such pioneering artists as Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Esther Phillips, Little Richard and Otis Redding. In 1960, she joined the Chess Records stable of superstars which included Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. She recorded more than 30 albums and had 23 hit singles in the next 16 years.

Opening for the Rolling Stones in 1979 and 1981 expanded her audiences and admirers. Few artists are confident enough to record or sing such Etta James' classic, signature songs as "At Last," "Trust In Me," "Sunday Kind of Love" and "Fool That I Am." She has steadily expanded her musical expressions to include jazz, pop and the American songbook. In 1994, she won her first Grammy with "Mystery Lady: The Songs of Billie Holiday." She was inducted into the Rock ‘N' Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

A popular Playboy Jazz artist, James' Sunday performance is her seventh at the festival.

Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval's Mambo Mania Big Band in its world premier performance, classic jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard, Norman Brown's Summer Storm with Peabo Bryson, Marion Meadows and Jeff Lorber, multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller, African bassist and singer Richard Bona, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, pianist Taylor Eigsti Quartet and Malcolm-Jamal Warner's Miles Long.

Eigsti, 21, will be the young lion on the set for the 80th birthday celebration for master saxophonist James "Red" Holloway. Holloway, the trend-setting octogenarian, will perform with master bassist Richard Reid and baritone vocalist Kevin Mahogany. Surprise guests may also show up to jam with Holloway.

Tickets are still available at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office and Ticketmaster outlets. Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines are (213) 365-3500 and (714) 740-7878. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com. Additional information may be obtained on the Playboy Jazz Festival hotline, (310) 450-1173, or the website, www.playboyjazz.com.

Playboy Jazz Offers Free Community Concert June 10

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Playboy Jazz Festival offers a new venue for its free community concert series this Sunday at Warner Park in Woodland Hills.

Poncho Sanchez
Latin jazz great Poncho Sanchez and his band, contemporary jazz pianist Freddie Ravel and master drummer Tootie Heath headline the 1:30 to 8 p.m. concert. The show will also include young bassist Miles Mosley, the unique vocal stylings of Judy Chamberlain and the youthful energy of the Hamilton Academy Music Jazz Combo directed by Dan Taguchi.

The eclectic mix of jazz from sizzling salsa to the Great American Songbook will offer fans hours of entertainment before the main event, the 29th annual Playboy Jazz Festival, scheduled for June 16 and 17 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Sanchez, the Grammy-winning conguero and festival favorite, will close Sunday night. One of the world's most popular Latin jazz bands, the high octane salsa and Afro-Cuban percussions never fail to ignite a crowd.

Freddie Ravel
Considered one of the best keyboard players, composers and producers in contemporary music, Ravel will deliver a super-charged performance of funky organ music, hot R&B horns and throbbing Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Heath, the youngest brother in the royal jazz family that includes bassist Percy and saxophonist Jimmy, is among the most sought-after drummers in jazz. He has performed with such legends as Art Farmer, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Yusef Lateef and his brothers.

Music is more than a performance vehicle for pianist, composer and producer Freddie Ravel.

He's loved music all his life, played it since age 5 and found it professionally rewarding as an artist leading his own ensembles and serving a a sizzling sideman to such greats as Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Carlos Santana, Sergio Mendes, Madonna, Prince, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin and Earth, Wind and Fire.

There is no doubt among fans, critics and professional peers that Ravel's riveting rhythms put people in the aisles joyfully dancing. Or that his surname seemed to signal at birth the way folks around the world respond to his live shows.

Tootie Heath
The man who will headline Playboy Jazz Festival's new community concert venue has discovered a new and possibly higher potential in music. Everyone knows music is a universal language.

One need not speak Spanish to float on an idyllic cloud created by Latin balladeer Luis Miguel. Or understand Italian to soar on the wings of love dripping in an aria expertly executed by Andrea Bocelli. Japanese and African fans shook their hips on two different continents when Dizzy blew his horn or Duke Ellington's orchestra took the ‘A' train uptown to swing.

Music, attests the writer of the title track of Jarreau's and Benson's "Giving It Up For Love" duo CD, is the highest form of communication. It is also an unique way to teach the art of listening, a quality that is the cornerstone of every and an relationship, he claims.

He has no intention of ending a performance, writing and producing career that has given him great joy and more than minimal success on his own and with some of the best artists in the music industry. But he wants to take music a step further and let it lead to an equally uplifting vehicle to create humane exchanges and empathetic solutions to chaos and confusion.

Free Museum Admission

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The San Bernardino County Museum will be open to the public with no admission charge on Sunday, June 3. Free admission is sponsored by Inland Valley Bank.

ImageVisitors will be able to see special exhibits including "Living on the Edge: natural disasters in San Bernardino County," "Five Suns: the art of ancient Mesoamerica," and "Through the Looking Glass, children's clothing of the past." Galleries featuring exhibits of regional prehistory, history, and natural history will also be open.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All visitors will be admitted free on Sunday, June 3; parking is free. The museum's Garden Café will be open for snacks and beverages between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the Exploration Station live animal gallery will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.sbcountymuseum.org  or call (909) 307-2669.

The San Bernardino County Museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services‚ telephone number is (909) 307-2669 ext. 229.

Motown's Berry Gordy at Playboy Jazz Festival

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(Left to Right): Berry Gordy, Ray Anthony and Dick Rosenzweig. Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown Records congratulates big band leader and icon Ray Anthony with Dick Rosenzweig, President of the Playboy Jazz Festival, at the first in Playboy’s series of free community concerts held in conjunction with this year’s upcoming Playboy Jazz Festival to be held at the world famous Hollywood Bowl on June 16th and 17th.  Anthony performed big band classics with his swing band at the free community concert this afternoon at the Beverly Hills Civic Center in Beverly Hills, California.

Juneteenth Celebration Planned for June 2

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ImageThe 7th Annual Riverside Juneteenth Celebration will be held in Riverside, on Saturday, June 2, 2007 at Bordwell Park-Stratton Community Center, 2008 Martin Luther King Boulevard, from 12 to 6:00 p.m.  This free family oriented festival will feature entertainment, mini museum, health information, historical presentations, along with food and merchandize vendors.  Gems of the Community Awards will be given to persons and organizations that are commitment of family values and encouraging young people towards positive goals. Scholarships will be presented to local high school seniors.  Bring the children; it will be fun for the entire family. This free event is an excellent time to have a family reunion. For more information please call 877 - 752 - 1619 or visit our website: www.riversidejuneteenth.org.

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BVN National News Wire