The Jazzcat

The Playboy Jazz Festival 2007 at the Hollywood Bowl

by on Jun.20, 2007, under News


Playboy, Playboy, what can you say.  Los

Angeles so very much looks forward to the music, the sunshine,

and the sites; it is a bowl full of legs and love. Saturday was quite a

pleasant day but you need to plan properly for parking and transportation. However,

once you have arrived, it is like a musical paradise on a concrete beach.


I missed James Carter and the Cos

of good music, which were two performances that I had planned on enjoying, but

the rest of the afternoon had its fill of pleasant surprises.  Angelique Kudjo was a bundle of African

energy packed in a body filled with explosive vocal and athletic dance ability!  Randy Brecker and saxophonist Bill Evans

excited the crowd with their soul bop band. 

More soul than bop, but they express themselves quite well in this

genre.  Phil Woods and his quintet

featured Bill Charlap, Brian Lynch, and a few other cats who played more in the

vein I am accustomed to.  Phil dedicated

and played a piece by and for the late great Benny Carter, who would have been

celebrating his 100th birthday


The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes added a

cool temperature to the heat.  They

brought it back to the time when men and women used to dance, celebrate and

make love to the standards.  The music

was calming and brought a peaceful mood over a very excitable audience.


What would an outdoor music festival will be without a touch

of Latin soul.  Johnny Polanco and Isaac

Delgado respectively had the crowd up and out of their seats; hips swerving to

the clavecian rhythms.  Yes, even I was

seen faking my best Cha Cha.  Chris Botti

was an artist that the audience seemed to be waiting for.  Even though he is an extremely contemporary

artist, he makes sure to higher the best cats from the straight ahead game to

lock in the freshness.


Now the blues is something else.  I am talking the straight up blues.  I usually take mine with a healthy dose of

jazz, but Buddy Guy doesn't play around with adverbs and adjectives, he gets

down and straight to the point of the matter. 

His sound is a mixture of rock, soul and a heavy dose of the deep blue

C. He took his guitar and microphone for a stroll around the bowl jamming and

singing before he got back on stage and played with his teeth.


Sunday was a day I was certainly looking forward to.  Partially because I have many good friends in

the line up, and I know that the music is guaranteed to be on point!  I unfortunately missed my man Malcolm Jamaal

Warner and his band “Miles Long”, but heard they were the right group to kick

off a great day of music.  Taylor Eigsti’s

band is always an enlightening experience. When you stack a band with the best

players in the game, you can be certain that there will be a check in the win

column at the end of the day.  Eric Harland,

Reuben Rogers, and Julian Lage, round out a killer quartet.


Red Holloway celebrated his 88th birthday on stage with his

band along with singer Kevin Mahogany singing the blues and standards in fine

Holloway fashion.  Nathan and the Zydeco Cha

Chas gave us a splash of world flavor, while Richard Bona visited all of the

genres in music from jazz, to world to funk, and all the while displaying such technical

virtuosity on the bass.  Terrence

Blanchard came out hitting hard.  He has

a pretty incredible band and has told me that this is the tightest musical unit

that he has had so far in his career. 

This was evident from the seamless a set of love derived from

compositions composed by his musicians along with the extended music from the

film by Spike Lee, “When the levees broke”. 

New Orleans

lives forever!


There are so many great musicians from New Orleans. 

So much so that even our famed announcer Bill Cosby had trouble getting

it right.  So I'll say it right for all

of you who may have been confused, Terrence Blanchard, Terence Blanchard!


The audience lit up when Marcus Miller hit the stage; jazz

and funk in high fashion.  So far, Marcus

Miller and his band were the highlight in terms of audience elation.  For the last tune my man, Malcolm Jamaal

Warner came back on stage to join the band and played bass as Marcus switched

to bass clarinet.  It was only a few

seconds but it looks like I got to see my man Malcolm play after all!


As the stage rotates, Dianne Reeves followed Marcus Miller

for back to back phenomenal performances. 

Women change hairstyles all the time, and Dianne came on stage lookin’ damn

good with a whole new attitude.  She

brought her whole family out on this trip. 

It was her mothers eighty fourth birthday and she was in the audience to

celebrate. As she says quite often, stories are the fabric of our lives and

Dianne continues to bring the emotion of the truth to the forefront of our



The next young lady on stage was sporting a whole new

personality, a whole new body, and a ferocious quest to expose and explore the

sexual side of the music.  Etta James

came to play in more ways than one.  The

race for raunch and good old-fashioned love making was in high demand with the

music.  She lets you know exactly where

she's cuming from and exactly where she's going and the audience was right

there with her.  I left my prior to

Norman Brown, but I heard his performance on the way out; closing out the

Playboy Jazz Festival with the sounds of the groove.  Just another Father's Day weekend in the

sunshine at the Hollywood bowl!  Next time bring your father, your mother,

your girl, the food, along with much love and enjoy the music and festivities for

another great summer weekend at the Playboy Jazz Festival.


LeRoy Downs

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