By Ricky Richardson
Los Angeles - The nation celebrated its birthday on the Monday, July 4th, 2011. Locally, Angelenos had many options for enjoying the 4th of July. One could picnic in the park, visit the mountains, go to the beach, have a block party or perhaps a private function at home. Hundreds gathered at the Vision Backlot for the 9th Annual 4th of July Leimert Park Jazz Festival sponsored by Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. We were thoroughly entertained with a stellar line-up of musicians as well as comedianes. I arrived in time to catch Mark Allen Felton played a set of smooth jazz, coupled with some jazz standards from his latest CD I Do It For Love. Ray Bailey set the stage on fire with a incendiary set of blues. Comedian Roz Browne were making a return engagement to the festival with some side splitting humor. Marquaret Love along with pianist Karen Hernandez and drummer Fu Fu closed out the festival with a mixed set of jazz, blues and soul.
My next stop for the 4th of July, happened to consist of two different celebrations. The Exposition Park 4th of July Extravaganza was brought to the people by The Office of Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, Radio Free 102.3 KJLH, A Better LA, Unity One, The Los Angeles Coliseum Commission and the California African American Museum. A family friendly Fun Zone was set up for the kids which consisted of bouncers and face paintings. Radio Free 102.3 KJLH had those in the parks jamming to music provided by DJ's as well as local musicians. I was delighted that I arrived in time to see a fabulous vocalist taking the stage. She comes from a musical family. Her name is Tasha Taylor (does it rang a bell). This is the daughter of Johnny Taylor. Ms. Taylor fronted a tight band as she performed some popular tunes from her dads catalog, as well as material from her latest CD entitled Taylor Made to the delight of all in attendance.
I walked over to my next and final destination for the day. Target Sundays at CAAM were beginning to start their live program as I found a seat near the stage. We were welcomed and greeted by CAAM's Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson and she introduced the co-host for the evening Nita Whitaker LaFontaine and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter. The live program of entertainment had a patriotic vibe - the venue was decorated appropriately for the occassion. Some of the special guest performers contributed to the occassion by singing some patriotic songs or reciting poems. We were entertained �for several hours with performances by Nita Whitaker LaFontaine, Kim Staunton, K. B. Solomon, Sharon Ridley, Rodrick Covington, and Adam Jackson and the Full Spectrum Band closing out the program. DJ N'Namdi added a special touch to the program by spinning tracks for everyone.
Thousands circled the Los Angeles Coliseum for "The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Fireworks Extravanga" - a one hour fireworks show accompanied by contemporary music.