This year's Smooth Jazz Festival 2010 in Germany took place in Augsburg in the Parktheater im Kurhaus G�ggingen, a historic bulding from the 19th century that has been rebuilt after a fire and now serves as theater and concert hall. It turned out to be an ideal setting for this event, holding around 450 people, half of them in the seating area. There were bars and catering areas, so we were taken care of very well. The event was attended well, I was pleased to see a capacity crowd and many familiar faces from previous years.
Friday night the festival was kicked off by David Benoit who did some songs from his current Earthglow release, next to several of his classic songs ranging from "Freedom At Midnight" to "Blue Rondo A La Turk", supported by The Heavy Mellow Quartet from Berlin, who backed all the major acts on Friday and Saturday. Later during Benoit's show, special guest Rick Braun played one song, kicking up things a notch. David Benoit was in a great playing mood and provided an excellent performance.
Rick Braun did the late show and turned up the heat considerably, he was joined by Shilts, and the two worked the crowd. David Benoit joined in for one song, returning Rick's earlier favor. Rick Braun did many of his hits, ranging from "Use Me" to "Grazing In The Grass", as another highlight, Chuck Loeb, who just had arrived, joined the party, bringing this first evening to a rousing end.
Saturday, the sax and guitar duo Akusticos opened the evening with some unplugged smooth jazz, before Shilts performed his own show. He did several of his familiar songs (like "Good Evans" and "Look What's Happened" and Stevie's "Tuesday Heartbreak") before featuring a track from his brand new, soon to be released new CD Going Underground. At the end of his show, Rick Braun joined him turning up the heat. This was another great show by a consummate sax player.
Next was guitarist extraordinaire Chuck Loeb doing a great show, just backed by the Heavy Mellow Quartet, he gave us some great renditions of tracks like "The Music Inside" and other gems from his vast catalog. The crowd just loved it. At the end of his show, Rick Braun and Shilts played a couple of tracks with him (like "Brother Ray" and a blues) jamming along, in the spirit of jazz expressing spontaneity and cameraderie. This brought the evening to a satisfying close.
Sunday morning, while some rays of sunshine were entering the building, Joyce Cooling with Jay Wagner and their own drummer, performing in Germany for the first time, capitivated the crowd with her blend of jazz and latin grooves, most notable were the percussion interludes that provided a nice change to the instrumental parts of the concert. She performed her own "Revolving Door" sitting at the edge of the stage, providing a moving part of the concert. Her show was warmly received and she was visibly moved by the response of the crowd, she did two encores.
This festival turned out to be a success, and even more than last year, I am sure that it is destined to be continued successfully in the future. Next year's festival will be held in Augsburg at the same location, so the uncertainty has come to an end and I look forward to be back again.