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Urban Jazz

Ramsey Lewis, Tower of Power, Anthony Hamilton and More Help Playboy Jazz Festival Turn 40.

Playboy Jazz Festival Celebrates 40th Anniversary at The Hollywood Bowl
 
by A. Scott Galloway
 
Under clear blue skies, 80-degree temps with a sweet breeze blowin’ on both days, the “Playboy Jazz Festival” celebrated its 40th anniversary with days split almost squarely between World Music leaning on Saturday and Jazz on Sunday.
 
Saturday June 9 began with the traditional Los Angeles County High School For The Arts Jazz of promising young students followed by Columbian party band Monsieur Perine’. Things got really interesting when blind 17 year-old organ prodigy Matthew Whitaker and his trio wowed the crowd with the passionate and eclectic set list of his original “Play it Back,” the `60s pop hit “More Today Than Yesterday” by Spiral Staircase made famous on the jazz side by Charles Earland, the Brazilian gem “Mais Que Nada,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” and the finale of a dual medley of Earth Wind and Fire’s “In the Stone/September” with Stevie Wonder’s “As/I Wish” – what a prodigious talent and people-pleaser.
 

Matthew Whitaker

Walter Beasley – The Best of Walter Beasley | The Affable Years, Volume 1


 
Walter Beasley – The Best of Walter Beasley | The Affable Years, Volume 1
by Peggy Oliver
 
Once upon a time, a particular nine year old received a life-changing gift of a Grover Washington, Jr. CD. From that moment on, Walter Beasley would dedicate his career to shear excellence — all for the love of music and for the legendary saxophonist they call Mr. Magic.

Dr. Lonnie Smith | All in My Mind


 
Dr. Lonnie Smith | All in My Mind
Blue Note Records
by Brent Faulkner
 
Ah, Dr. Lonnie Smith! He’s one of the legendary jazz musicians still alive and well who continues to record sweet music. What makes Smith most unique – besides his beard and turban – is the fact he’s a jazz Hammond B3 organist. While there are numerous organists in jazz, compared to other instruments, it’s rarer.

Dee Dee Bridgewater Returns To Birthplace For Soul Food on Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready


 
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready
(Okeh/Sony Masterworks)
 
Dee Dee Bridgewater is a woman who has lived…well…and in a lot of places. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, recorded her first album in Tokyo, Japan, won her Tony in New York, won her Grammys in L.A., escaped to Paris where she thrived as a pure jazz singer, returned stateside to Nevada where she regrouped, and now resides in New Orleans where there was enough of Mother Africa to sustain her after she’d traced her roots back to Nigeria (musically documented a decade ago on her 2007 album, Red Earth).

Quincy Jones Hollywood Bowl Tribute Soars Individually Yet Coasts Collectively


 
Quincy Jones: The A&M Years
Hollywood Bowl
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Concert Reflections by A. Scott Galloway
 
I’m going to begin this review by stating two things upfront. This salute to Quincy Jones focusing on his early `70s big band albums Walking in Space (CTI/A&M – 1969), Gula Matari (CTI/A&M – 1970) and Smackwater Jack (A&M – 1971) was THE concert in this summer’s Hollywood Bowl Wednesday Night Jazz Series that I was most looking forward to.

LaBelle Tries On Jazz Hat To Troublesome Effect


 
Patti LaBelle
Bel Hommage
(GPE/Sony Red)
 
Patti LaBelle sits on a throne as among the greatest R&B to Pop singers recording and performing. However, the list of singers that can authentically swing between the Pop world and the Jazz world is a short one highlighted by Aretha Franklin, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nancy Wilson (retired) and the late incomparable Natalie Cole and Teena Marie.

Norman Brown | Let It Go


 
Norman Brown | Let It Go
Shanachie Entertainment
by Peggy Oliver
 
The musical dexterity of Wes Montgomery has inspired many contemporary jazz guitarists through the years despite his early days as a hard bop musician. One of many musicians who gravitated to this icon was Norman Brown, a huge turning point in studying and performing jazz, despite his earlier influences and interest in Jimi Hendrix and the Isleys.

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