Review By: Bridgid Brousseau
THE 36th ANNUAL PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014.
The first ever Playboy Jazz Festival was held in Chicago Stadium in August of 1959 where Jazz music icons from Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald performed to a crowd of 68,000 people. The tradition continues.
The 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl took place on June 14-15, 2014. The Hollywood Bowl, set in Bolton Canyon, is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world! With a seating capacity of exactly 17,376, the Playboy Jazz Festival was sold out for Saturday and Sunday.
George Lopez MC Crowd Photos
For the past 36 years the Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl has brought together the greatest, biggest and most innovative Jazz musicians in the world. Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner made a very brief appearance but disappeared quickly. The multi-talented George Lopez kept the crowd going as he returned for his second year as Master of Ceremonies. Although the festival provided a range of talent, the crowd was a little mild and laid back this year than last year. This could be attributed to the “Big Bands” that perhaps the younger generations were not fully exposed to whereas the older generations are not the “dance in the isles” type. However, this year’s festival brought a variety of incredible musicians that appealed to many generations as it should.
More Patti Austin More Huggy Bear
Several of the highlights on Saturday included performances by vocalist, Allen Stone, Jamie Cullum, Antonio Fargas aka "Huggy Beat" with his talented singers "The New Jump Blues" band, Saxophonist, Tia Fuller, vocalist, Dianne Reeves and the Arturo Sandoval Big Band with special guest and jazz vocal powerhouse, Patti Austin. I always watch in awe as she performs. Additional special guests with this big band included Monica Mancini, twin daughter of the famous film composer Henry Mancini and Oscar nominated actor, Andy Garcia on bongos.
Allen Stone Photos
Allen Stone definitely rocked it! The 25-year-old singer-songwriter from Chewelah, Washington has a lot of soul. Although his social consciousness has been likened to that of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers his voice has that smooth raspy sound similar to Adam Levine and lead singer of Simply Red, Mick Hucknall.
Tia Fuller Photos Diane Reeves Photos
Saxophonist, Tia Fuller gave a captivating performance as she proved her mastery and skill with her quartet. I read a quote about Tia that states, “she plays with the kind of aggression that men do.” Why shouldn’t she? Additionally it is no surprise that Dianne Reeves looked just as beautiful as she sang.
More George Duke Tribute Photos Here
Saturday’s festival provided a particularly poignant moment as Al Jarreau, Ndugu Chancler, Byron Miller, Paul Jackson Jr., Greg Phillinganes, Lil John Roberts, Josie James and John Beasley Celebrated the life of the late, great George Duke who passed away August 5, 2013, less than two months after performing for the 2013 Playboy Jazz Festival. His family members were present in the audience. Longtime friend and fellow musician, Stanley Clarke also took to the stage to pay homage to his dear friend, George Duke. George Duke was a powerful musical force for over 40 years. He is truly missed.
Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Sunday’s performances included the James Cotton blues Band with special guest Big Jay McNeely, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Jose James, Henry Butler, Ravi Coltrane and Dave Holland performing with Kevin Eubanks formerly of the Tonight Show, Craig Taborn and Eric Harland. Capping Sunday’s lineup was American Idol winner turned Grammy winner, Fantasia. She brought the crowd to their feet with her signature soulful sound. The incomparable duo of George Benson with special guest Earl Klugh performed before Los Amigos Invisibles closed out the weekend event.
Geroge Benson and Earl Klugh
If you have never attended The Playboy Jazz festival I would definitely add it to your bucket list. I was able to speak with jazz fans throughout the day that had traveled very far to be in attendance. If you live in the great city of Los Angeles and have not attended at least one Playboy Jazz Festival then as a writer I simply do not have words for you. This is a ride that must be taken at least once by everyone.