Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Sunday, August 19, 2007, 6:00 pm – 10:15 pm, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
At precisely 6:00 pm on a typical 81° warm and sunny Sunday California afternoon, 94.7 the Wave’s morning host, and beloved radio personality, Pat Prescott, opened the 24th annual JVC Jazz Festival at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl, as it is commonly referred to, sits facing a lovely backdrop of the beautiful Hollywood Hills and offers patrons choices to enjoy picnicking on the lovely lush grounds before the concert or during the concert in garden or terrace box seating, super seats and benches in a sprawling amphitheatre setting. The Bowl was bustling with over 14,000 picnic basket wielding patrons who arrived early to enjoy edible delicacies of all sorts presented on custom table-scapes accompanied by crisp linens, fresh flowers, candles, wine and other beverages. The Bowl is always a place filled with light chatter, laughter, and waves and hugs between old and new friends who make this outing a group affair.
The JVC Jazz Festival is a world-wide, 7-series production that includes the North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and the JVC Jazz Festivals in Chicago, IL; Newport, RI; Concord, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Paris France; and Warsaw, Poland. Produced by George Wein and sponsored by technology innovators, JVC, the highly popular JVC Los Angeles festival is the last JVC concert in the states for the year.
The three main acts were:
Composer, recording artist, radio personality and concert headliner Jim Brickman opened the show with the title song from his 2006 CD, Escape. The richly romantic piano instrumental had light Mediterranean overtones which on the CD are performed by smooth jazz guitarist Marc Antoine. Turning to his 2002 BMG/Windham Hills Recording, Valentine, Brickman performed the title song, “Valentine” and “Simple Things”, accompanied by saxophonist Michael Lington with Brickman adding soothing vocals.
Next, Denmark born, Michael Lington, took center stage with a passionate version of “All in Love is Fair” from his 2006 CD, A Song For You released by Rendezvous Records. Lington’s has the perfect combination of a rich saxophone sound and genuinely warm personality that allows him to make a seemingly effortless and instant bond with the audience. His three-song set included two top10 hits, “Pacifica” and the gotta clap, snap or shake tune, “Show Me”, both from his 2004 CD, Stay With Me. Rounding out the set, Brickman and Lington invited audience participation to accompany their combined rendition of Brickman’s “Partners In Crime”.
At 6:55 pm, while the weather was still holding above 75° and the sunset was still in the distance, Earl Klugh took the stage to a hearty round of applause. The Grammy winning acoustic guitar player began his nine-song, hour-long set with the instantly likeable up tempo “Move”, from his 1994 CD of the same title. Reaching even further back, 27 years earlier, which is older than at least a quarter of the of the fans in the audience, Klugh performed “Take it From the Top” which was originally released in 1983 on vinyl for Capital Records. Next, Josie James joined Klugh to deliver sultry vocals on “Now and Again” which Klugh recorded with Roberta Flack in 1999 on his Peculiar Situation CD. “Living Inside Your Love”, evoked an automatic, soft, sing-along response from the audience and ushered in an ultra mellow vibe. The switch to “Mobimeitos Del Alma” (Rhythms of the Soul) “, a deeply rhythmic jazz samba, was a foot tapping refreshing change in tempo. Returning to more classic Klugh, with” This Time”, Lamont Van Hook flawlessly carried the vocals for this tune that which was originally released as an instrumental and later recorded with lyrics written and sung by Al Jarreau. The set continued with a full-throttle opening of “Twinkle” which garnered the most applause, especially after a searing alto sax solo by Lenny Price, who strutted, trotted, skipped, fell to his knees and bent over backwards without missing a beat. Keeping the tempo on hyper, Klugh plunged into a hot and saucy tune titled “Dr Macumba” from his 1977 CD titled Finger Painting. This eleven-minute arrangement featured solos by Al Duncan on trombone; Ron Otis on drums and Al Turner on bass who slapped the guitar like it had stolen something. The final song, “Back in Central Park” was from Klugh’s 1983 Low Ride CD, chosen by Klugh as a reminder of his early years of playing in New York’s Central Park. The set included a diverse selection of numbers that all conveyed the very distinctly rich sound that has made Klugh a legend worth hearing whenever he’s in a nearby town. Klugh’s next US performances will be on 9/9/07 at the Liberty Jazz Festival in New Jersey City, New Jersey and on 10/27/07 at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Cerritos, CA where he will be performing with Brenda Russell.
Arriving on the stage about a half-hour past sunset at 8:09 pm, was the headlining act, Dave Koz and Friends At The Movies Summer Tour 2007 With Special Guests David Benoit, Phil Perry and introducing Kelly Sweet. The two-hour set featured 20 songs, showcasing the superb talents of each performer, including the “killer band” comprised of Brian Simpson, Musical Director, keyboards; Steve Theard, drums, vocals; Bill Sharpe, bass, vocals; and Randy Jacobs, guitar, vocals.
The opening number, “Give It Up” from Koz’ 2003 Saxophonic CD showed the choreographed footwork of Koz, Jacobs and Sharpe which ignited applause and whistles from the audience even before Koz jumped on the piano stool while both he and Benoit continued playing at a feverish pace. Other songs in the first hour included:
The last hour of the show in the darkness of the night simulated the feel of being at the drive in as it began with a brief video clip introducing Dave Koz’ latest concept CD, At the Movies. On the CD Koz collaborates with guests India. Arie, Anita Baker, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Donna Summer and Vanessa Williams and features eleven songs that were Oscar winners and four of them appear in the Top 10 of the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Top Movie Songs. Nearly each song was accompanied by props and/or background dancers who were perfectly costumed for each movie theme and never distracted from the well-delivered musical performances.
The final hour brought these musical performances:
When Koz, his special guests and the band left the stage after Car Wash, I felt it was the perfect ending to an unbelievably well executed concert. But, Koz proved me wrong and returned to the stage with his band to perform “I’ll Be There” made famous by the Jackson Five and recorded by Koz on his 1999 CD, The Dance. Koz, who was clearly emotional, thanked the crowd for their support and promised to “be there” for them and then turned to Simpson, Sharpe, Jacobs and Theard and had each play solos indicating their commitment to “be there” as well.
The audience, who was also full of emotion, was pushed over the top as Jacobs became possessed by his bass guitar and began rapidly spinning, swirling, falling to the ground collapsing backwards then jumping up and down doing air splits, followed by him playing the guitar between his knees in a very Jimmy Hendrix kind of fervor. And, if that wasn’t enough, Theard, the drummer who had been holding down the beat and quietly providing background vocals the entire concert, belted out a high pitch chorus that nearly made the audience run up on stage and grab him. It was a wild, pleasant and surprising ending that will be as memorable as the entire 4-hour concert.
My final thought is that Dave Koz is considered one of the smartest businessmen in the music industry because he never loses sight of the importance of the show side of show business.Posted by Peter Böhi at August 31, 2007 2:04 PM