All Star Jazz Series in Newport Beach Kicks Off In Kick Back Style with Michael Franks & Trio of Lorber, Harp & Loeb!

Michael Franks / Jazz Funk Soul (Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb)
Hyatt Newporter – July 25, 2015

A Concert Reflection by A. Scott Galloway

One of Southern California’s most popular summer spots for jazz is the Hyatt Newporter hotel in big money Newport Beach. They have a Friday night jazz series every summer in a mini outdoor amphitheatre on the lawn that just gets stronger with each passing year. So far in 2015, I dipped down there once to see this all-star show which proved to be a sweet night of seasoned music.

Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb & Everette Harp

Opening the Sold Out show was the trio of keyboardist Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Everette Harp and guitarist Chuck Loeb that go by the group name Jazz Funk Soul – also the title of their 2014 CD on Shanachie Records. Were it not for their opening act status, I’m sure they would have each included at least one classic from their solo careers in this set. Instead, they stuck to primarily promoting selections from their new CD and recent solo outings. Highlights were their peppery, Grammy-nominated collective #1 smooth jazz chart-topper “Serious Business,” the Lorber-penned “Speed of Light” (containing elements reminiscent of The Jeff Lorber Fusion’s heavily Hip Hop-sampled “Rain Dance”), “Hacienda” and “All Jazzed Up.” Most moving was Everette Harp’s spoken and musical tribute to the late great George Duke who he called a mentor and a big brother.

Michael Franks Live
Michael Franks

What can one say about the incomparable Michael Franks…? A laidback seaside outdoor setting is nothing short of sublime for melting into his timeless catalog of music. Working with his longtime travelling band that includes female co-vocalist Veronica Webb, he reached all the way back to his major label debut from 1975 The Art of Tea (Reprise) for “Eggplant” and “Popsicle Toes,” to Burchfield Nines for “When the Cookie Jar is Empty” (including a cute story about how it’s a niece’s favorite though she truly doesn’t understand the real meaning of the song), “Rainy Night in Tokyo” from Passionfruit, all the way up to his most recent independent releases Rendezvous in Rio and Time Together. Michael has always been great at finding classy ways to strip down the impeccable arrangements from his recordings for the live setting. This was most impressive with what he did to what is perhaps his most pure jazz composition, “Monk’s New Tune” (from 1993’s Dragonfly Summer). Pianist Charles Blenzig played an extended unaccompanied solo to begin the song and again within the song, referencing several signature cues from compositions by Thelonious Monk as Michael and the band came in for the leader to share a fantasy about being in a club the night Monk debuts a brand new song. Wit and heart continue to abound in the vivid aural works of a true master.

Other shows coming to the Hyatt Newporter this season include saxophonist Najee with singer/songwriter Gary Taylor (Fri. Aug. 7), bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding with her special touring project “Emily’s D+Evolution” (Fri. Aug. 14), R&B star Ruben Studdard (Fri. Aug. 21), singer Raul Midon opening for The Sax Pack’s special 10th anniversary show (Fri. Aug. 28), the legendary George Benson up close and personal (Fri. Sept. 4), a brilliant pairing of progressive jazz singers Rachelle Ferrell and Jose James (Fri. Sept. 18), and, finally, the one and only Al Jarreau with sexy newcomer Andrea Miller (Fri. Oct. 2).

For more information, visit Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Summer Concert Series.

A. Scott Galloway
Music Editor
The Urban Music Scene

MORE Music Reviews on T.U.M.S.!:

Kirk Whalum LIVE at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley - Seattle, Washington | October 26th, 2023
People Of Earth (PoE) | Self-Titled
Alex Acuña | Gifts
Tony Hightower | Legacy
Musicologist A. Scott Galloway Reflects on the Last Concert He Experienced Before the COVID-19 Crisi...
Boney James | Solid
Keyboardist Jason Miles Big-Ups Black Icons with Black Magic
Second Outing from Corea McBride & Blade Finds Trio as Virtuous and Versatile as Ever
Stern and Lorber Find Equal Footing at Level Eleven
Poncho Sanchez | Trane's Delight
Jéssica Pina | Essência
Powerful Jazz Film "Bolden" Paints a Greater Socio-Political Story
New Orleans Offers Up A Sassy Blue Angel
Keiko Matsui Sends Out a Reflection of Beauty Personified with Echo
Dominican-based Singer Anthony Jefferson Swings On a Star in Sophomore CD All I Am
At 85, Shorter Soars With Epic Musical/Literary Mashup Emanon
Bob James Drops First Trio CD As A Leader in Over a Decade
Charlie Wilson and The O'Jays' Polar Extremes of Soul
Ramsey Lewis, Tower of Power, Anthony Hamilton and More Help Playboy Jazz Festival Turn 40.
Piano Wonder Joey Alexander's Third Outing Proves He's On The Path to Mastery
Peabo Bryson LIVE at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley - Seattle, Washington | March 2nd, 2018
Walter Beasley - The Best of Walter Beasley | The Affable Years, Volume 1
Dr. Lonnie Smith | All in My Mind
Take 6 LIVE at Jazz Alley in Seattle, WA | Sept. 21st, 2017
Dee Dee Bridgewater Returns To Birthplace For Soul Food on Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready
Quincy Jones Hollywood Bowl Tribute Soars Individually Yet Coasts Collectively
Ohio Players Set Hollywood Bowl On Fire Opening For Dave Koz and Larry Graham
Boney James | Honestly
LaBelle Tries On Jazz Hat To Troublesome Effect
Damien Escobar | Boundless
Norman Brown | Let It Go
Christian Sands | Reach
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah | Ruler Rebel
The Baylor Project | The Journey
Miles Mosley | Uprising
Bob Baldwin | The Gift of Christmas