Jazz In The Park (3rd Annual Inglewood Jazz Festival 2005)

By Ricky Richardson

The 3rd Annual Inglewood Jazz Festival was held recently at the Ed Vincent Jr. Park in Inglewood. Organizers of the festival were blessed that this event was held on a beautiful Southern California Day.

The festival was overshadowed by the events that happened in the Gulf Coast (New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama). This caused me to stop and wonder what will be on the minds of the audience on this day. Many people in the audience, including myself were anxious to hear from family, friends and other loved ones from this region of the country. Thought and prayers were sent out to the people in the Gulf Coast throughout the day.

W-Braxton.jpgThe festival kicked off with an outstanding set by saxophonist Jeanette Harris. This popular Fresno based artist will be honored by her hometown with a special day set aside for her on September 18th, 2005. She played material from latest CD Down Route 99. Her set consisted of the following tunes "Gotta Go", "Take Me There", "and continued with a tune by violinist Michael Ward entitled "Una Rosa" who joined her onstage for the remainder of her set. The honored the legacy of Grover Washington with "Grover Worked And Under Paid", and closed out with "Always There" by Ronnie Laws.

The Braxton Brothers are called "Groove Masters from the Bay". The San Francisco based smooth jazz duo consisted of twin brothers Nelson (bass) and Wayne (saxophone). They showcased their mastery for the audience performing tunes from their latest CD Rollin' . I witnessed many people swaying back and forward on "Don't Stop", "It's You", "Rollin'", "When Love Comes Around" (featured bass and saxophone only), "Anything For You", "When I See You" (a funky remix), "Blue Sand and "Take Me Back To Love". I'm sure that you; the readers have all four of their CD's in your collection. Steppin' Out, and Now And Forever on the Windham Hill Jazz Label, plus Both Sides and Rollin' on Peak Records label.

Braxton-Bro.jpgEvery festival, concert or cultural event that I attend, there is always bound to be someone to knock my socks off. Keyboardist, Producer and Arranger Bob Baldwin did the honors on this occasion. He churned out some original as well as familiar instrumental pop tunes. He held my undivided attention as he played material from his latest CD All In A Days Work, and also featured songs from his previous CD's. His set was complimented by the presence of vocalist Toni Smith. You could hear her powerful vocals when she was away from the microphone. The group opened with "She Is Single, And Ready To Mingle", from the Standing Tall CD. He took a detour to Brazil with the samba influence "Cafezinho" from the Brazil Chill CD. "All In A Days Work" title track from his current CD. Prompted the audience to break out with the electric slide on "People Make The World Go Round", "Summer Breeze", and closed out his set with "Funkin For Jamaica" by Tom Browne.

Saxophonist Euge Groove came to the festival with some impressive credentials. He got his education at the University of Miami, and got schooled as part of the funk driven horn section of Tower of Power. He also debuted material from his latest CD Just Feels Right. Euge roused the crowd by serenading several women while strolling around the festival grounds. This exciting performer thrilled the audience with the tunes "What Is Hip", "Just My Imagination", "GonnaTakeUHigher", "Get Em Goin", and Let's Get It On".

Spyro Gyra cranked out an energetic set of their trademark sounds mixed with pop, jazz, R&B, and blues as the sun was setting. They thoroughly entertained the crowd by playing some familiar tunes "Shaker Song", "Morning Dance", and "Summer Strut" and debuted material from their current CD The Deep End.

Soulful vocalist Jeffrey Osborne closed out the festival. He had a special interaction with the crowd. His set was marvelous to say the least. He performed and the audience served as additional singers on "Ready To Learn", "On The Wings Of Love", "Stay With Me Tonight", "You Should Be Mine", "(Everytime I Turnaround) Back In Love Again", "Holding On (When Love Is Gone)", and "Love Power".

Photos and text by Ricky Richardson