June 13, 2006

Educational Jazz - 20th Annual UCLA Jazz/Reggae Festival

Photos and Text by Ricky Richardson

KennyBurrell.jpgThe annual UCLA JazzReggae Festival has become synonymous with the coming summer. This festival is a great outlet to witness the ethnically diverse population of Los Angeles enjoying a marvelous event. The festival is presented by the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commission.

The title of my article is Educational Jazz. I chose this title due to the various artists on the line-up who are professors in the Jazz Studies Department at UCLA.

The festival got under way with the talented UCLA Latin Jazz Ensemble directed by trumpeter Bobby Rodriquez. The group played a fiery hot, high energy set of Latin Jazz on the following tunes “Josefina”, “Descarga de East L.A.”, and concluded their brief set with “Tin Tin Deo”.

Next to perform was legendary guitarist Kenny Burrell. Mr. Burrell is the Founder and Director of the Jazz Studies Program at UCLA, where he is also a professor of music and ethnomusicology. The quintet featured some of L.A.’s best jazz musicians: Tom Rainer-piano, Roberto Miranda-bass, Clayton Cameron-drums and Herman Riley on saxophone. The crowd was thoroughly entertained thru their set of straight-ahead jazz and blues. The quintet performed “Three Fourths of the House” (Blues/Waltz), “Mark One”, “the popular, playful jazz version of “Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street” and finished their set on a spiritual note on “Come Sunday” and “David Danced” two compositions by Duke Ellington.

Donnie - a socially conscious singer immediately established repoir with the audience. He addressed many issues throughout his pleasant set. “You Will Be Singing The Blues, When You Hear The Daily News”, “People Person” - addressed the need for people to respect each other. “Man vs. Machine” about our reliance of technology. “China Doll” -song about child molestation. “I Can’t Be Sweating You”. “You Better Love Yourself”, and closed out his set with “Our New National Anthem”.

DianneReeves2.jpgDianne Reeves is perhaps the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world today. Check out her performance in the movie Good Night & Good Luck with George Clooney. The stage was set up to resemble a small intimate jazz club. Ms Reeves performed another crowd pleasing, captivating set. She held the crowds undivided attention by demonstrating her magnificent vocal range and scatting abilities. The highlight of her set consisted of the following songs: “Sadness To Live In Solitude”, “Social Call”, “One For My Baby; One For the Road”, “I’ll Be There When Morning Comes, “I Just Want To Testify”, and finished with “Better Days”. Ms. Reeves received a well deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of her set.

Trio Beyond - John Scofield-guitar, Larry Goldings-organ, keyboards, and Jack De Johnette-drums dazzled the crowd playing a set of original tunes from an upcoming CD.

Composer, arranger, band leader and UCLA professor Gerald Wilson and his Big Band Orchestra exploded unto the scene with “You Better Believe”, “Milestone”, and “Theme for Monterey”. The orchestra consisted of some of the top name jazz musicians in Los Angeles gathered to play a rousing set of straight-ahead jazz. Mr. Wilson was presented with the 2nd Annual UCLA JazzReggae “For The Love of Music” Award on Saturday, May 27th at a private reception.

Nu-Soul, Neo-Soul duo Floetry performed a splendid, superb set of original material from their latest three CD’s - Flo’Ology, Floetic, & Floacism to the extreme delight of 7,000 people in the audience.

Posted by Peter Böhi at June 13, 2006 6:35 PM