Sweet 16 - Jazz At Drew

Text and photos by Ricky Richardson

Dennis-Nelson-%26-Everette-Ha.jpgCharles R. Drew University & Honda presented the 16th Annual "Jazz At Drew" Legacy Music Series and Cultural Marketplace and Health Pavilion. This is one of Southern California's most popular music and charity event. This year featured another stellar line-up of jazz, gospel and R&B greats who performed on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1, 2006 in the grassy outdoor setting on the campus of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science in Los Angeles.

The line-up for Saturday, September 30 featured The Multi-School Jazz Band directed by Reggie Andrews, The Drew University All-Stars featuring Leon Jones and Dr. Casper Glenn, Axx Straight Out of Jamaica with Prezident Brown, Michael Session Sextet, Roy Ayers, Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Band, The Impressions and The Rickey Minor Band with special guest Rose Royce.

The festivities continued on a high note on Sunday, October 1 with Khay Jhay, Orquesta Charangoa, Jazz Disciples, Soul Seekers with Mary, Mary, The Dennis Nelson All-stars featuring Everett Harp, Hiroshima, The Meeting: Ndugu Chancler, Patrice Rushen & Ernie Watts, and closed out with Michael Henderson's Bass Players Ball with Billy Paul, Jean Carne, Angela Winbush, Cherrelle, The Calloway Brothers, DaMia Satterfield, Rodney "Sir Nose" Trotter.

PeteEscovedo.jpgWhat began in 1991 with an audience of approximately 150 people, over the past few years has grown to accommodate some 10,000 jazz fans annually and raises much needed funds to support Drew University, the only historically Black institution for graduate education in health profession west of the Mississippi.

"Jazz At Drew" has proven to be more than a celebration of music. Rather, it is due to the healing power of music that this event endeavors to build cultural bridges thru music, and to continue the University?s mission ?to conduct education and research in the content of community service in order to train physicians and allied health professional to provide care with excellence and compassion, especially to underserved populations.

Jazz-Disciples.jpgAlready a pioneer in education and medicine, Drew University has also evolved into a cultural leader as a result of the prestigious "Jazz At Drew" event, which has historically honored the greats of the jazz world, including James Moody, Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick, the late Billy Higgins, the late Joe Williams, and the late Harry "Sweets" Edison. That tradition continues each year with an exciting line-up of internationally known jazz, gospel, blues and R&B performers headlining the two-day music festival, cultural marketplace and health faire in a sprawling garden on the university?s 11 acre campus in the Watts-Willowbrook community.

Mr. Roland Betts, who has served as the Executive Director/Producer of "Jazz At Drew" for 16 years was at the helm for his final festival in that capacity when he announced his retirement from the University as Director of Community Relations and Special Events. He will retire May 2007.