Smorgasbord of Soul

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles - The 4th Annual Taste of Soul will go down in the history books as one of the hottest events in October. Some of the hottest smooth jazz artist performed on the Budweiser Stage hosted by 94.7 The Wave Smooth Jazz Radio Station. The Taste of Soul featured a variety of the best soul food restaurants in Los Angeles.

Over 106,000 people (families, friends) came out to enjoy the festivities on a hot humid day, October 17, 2009.

The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and The Wave 94.7 FM, once again teamed up to host Los Angeles�s largest block party on the streets of Crenshaw Blvd. - between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Rodeo. Further on up the road on the KJLH Radio Free Stage, gospel and R&B music were spotlighted from 11-6PM. For the fourth year in a row, this festival was held without any incidence.

Due to the hot weather, I limited my movement at this event. I found a nice shaded spot near stage right of the Budweiser Stage. I could see and hear the featured artist on stage clearly.

The crowd and I were rewarded with the tasty sounds of smooth jazz and the sweet treat of some R&B music.

The Chosen Gospel Recovery group returned to kick off the program shouting out Praises and blessing to Our Lord and Savior.

The Sai Whatt Band was limited in their set due to technical difficulties. I encourage you to go see this popular L.A. Based band that performs regularly at the Dynasty and The Townhouse in Los Angeles. Their mini set consisted of some classic R&B tunes �Joy and Pain,� �What�s Going On,� �Got to Get On Up,� before their set was cut short and the crowd demanded an encore.

Alana - the soulful, sultry diva from the Desert and her band Masterpiece consisting of Howard Alston, saxophone, �Romel Veal, guitar, Bill Pickman, bass, Paul Vargas, keyboards/trumpet and Kenny Williams, drums. This tight band performs all over Los Angeles, and you can catch them at La Louisanne. They delighted the crowd and me with the following tunes �Funkin� For Jamaica,� �I Heard It Thru The Grapevine,� �I Got To Use My Imagination,� �Ain�t Nobody,� and �Proud Mary.�

The 4th Annual Taste of Soul was also the birthday of Danny Bakewell Sr., Publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. This was yet another reason to throw a huge party on the �Shaw� another name for Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in attendance for the celebration and presented Mr. Bakewell with a Los Angeles City Proclamation.

Keyboardist/vocalist Gail Jhonson finally was featured front and center with her own band. She is also the Musical Director for Norman Brown. Her incredible talent was a vocalist, keyboardist and composer were prominently featured during her crowd pleasing set as she performed material from her CD Pearl, and a medley of tunes dedicated to the late great bassist Wayman Tisdale.

The surprise performers of the festival were DW3. This band with three vocalists knocked the crowd off of its feet as they showcased their remarkable vocal abilities and versatility performing everything from R&B, Old School and some Latin. Their set list consisted of �What You Won�t Do For Love,� �Can�t Hide Love,� �and a medley of Michael Jackson hits. The crowd was dancing throughout their set and gave the band a standing ovation.

Talented guitarist/Musical Director Ray Fuller made return engagement to the Taste of Soul. This is a great testament to this amazing guitarist and his band.

My home boy from Florida saxophonist Eric Darius has been heating up the smooth jazz chars and festivals all over the world since he busted on the scene. His infectious energy was felt at The Taste of Soul as he wailed on the following tunes �Let�s Stay Together,� �Love TKO,� �Going All Out� and slowed the tempo down with �If I Ain�t Got You,� by Alicia Keys.

Stormin Norman Brown brought down the house as he closed out the festival with a high propone set featured on all of the front burners.

Talaya Trigueros and Pat Prescott of 94.7 The Wave served as MC�s for the Budweiser Stage. DJ Jonathan Phillips kept the dancers grooving in between featured performers.

Despite the heat, a wonderful time was had by all at this annual event with a plethora of music, food, family and friends gathered together for a ton of fun. Book your flight now for the 5th Annual Taste of Soul, October 16th, 2010.