2nd Annual Tribute to Luther Vandross: A Parade of Smooth Jazz Stars

Text by The Jazz Gypsy
Pictures by Ambrose

PrescottKoz_Ambrose.jpgLA�s smooth jazz radio station, KTWV�s, 94.7 the Wave�s morning hosts, Dave Koz and Pat Prescott, hosted the second annual tribute to the late R&B vocalist Luther Vandross at the Vault 350 in Long Beach, CA. The Tribute brought out an all-star roster of smooth jazz musicians who performed and shared personal stories about their relationship to Vandross, who died on July 1, 2005, from complications from a diabetes-induced stroke. Vandross was preceded in death by his father, maternal grandmother, brother, sister and nephew who also died from complications of this disease.

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Ray Fuller Cookie Brown Jeff Lorber

The standing room only crowd was treated to a two-set show with the following outstanding performances, primarily featuring Luther Vandross hit songs: Ray Fuller, �Never Too Much�; Michael Lington, �Give Me the Reason�; Jeff Lorber, �For You To Love�; Everette Harp and Ray Fuller, �Till My Baby Comes Home�; Patti Austin, �So Amazing�; Wayman Tisdale, �The Glow of Love�; Everette Harp, �If This World Were Mine�, and �Where Were You When I Needed You�; Brian Simpson (with Dave Koz), �It�s All Good� and �If Only For One Night�; Ronnie Laws, �Dream Maker� and �Always There�; and vocalist Cookie Brown, �Superstar�. Guitarist Robert Wilson from the Gap Band was in the crowd and joined Wayman Tisdale on stage and they brought the crowd to their feet in a rousing medley of �old school� hits from the 80�s. Tisdale and Wilson closed the show on a high note, leaving the crowd feeling elevated.

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Ronnie Laws Patti Austin Michael Lington

Although all the performances were superb, vocalist and Wave employee Cookie Brown, and veteran performer Ronnie Laws received rousing standing ovations. The Tribute was a fundraiser and a silent auction of an original oil portrait of Vandross was held. Between sets and after the live performances, the crowd danced to music provided by DJ Jonathan Phillips.

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Dave Koz & Brian Simpson Wayman Tisdale

The November 30th Tribute also coincided with the release of the second volume of the 2005 Grammy-nominated Luther Vandross tribute Forever, For Always, For Luther produced, once again, by Rex Rideout (who played keyboards at the event) and Bud Harner on Rendezvous Records. It was announced that Rendezvous is partnering with the American Stroke Association's Power To End Stroke to educate the public about the disease that disproportionably affects African Americans. A short four minute video that talks about ways to prevent stroke and early warning signs, featuring Dave Koz, Patti Austin and Kirk Whalum, can be found on Rendezvous� website.

According to information posted on the American Diabetes Associations� website, an all-star Forever, For Always, For Luther tour is tentatively being scheduled for Spring 2007 and in February 2007 a major concert and fundraising telethon is tentatively planned in Washington, D.C., to raise funds for the American Stroke Association�s Power To End Stroke campaign as well as the Luther Vandross Foundation. The site also mentions that Patti Austin, who often recorded with Luther, will be one of the project�s spokespersons.

Also present at the Tribute from the Wave were Dan Weiner, VP and General Manager; Jamie Kanai, Director of Marketing and Promotions; and on-air personality, Talaya Trigueros. Other guests included Max Szadek, who worked as Vandross� personal assistant for fourteen years and now heads of the Divabetic organization, representatives from the American Diabetics Association and The Power To End Stroke and Southern California BB Jazz promoters, Corky and Betty Benish. The event was sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy.