The Ultimate Jazz Festival - Green, Smooth Jazz and Old School

By Ricky Richardson

Ontario,CA - The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival was held on Saturday, August 6th and Sunday, August 7th, in a new venue, Guasti Regional Park in Ontario, California. This was a very relaxing setting, with lots of trees for shade. A large energetic crowd was on hand to get their groove on.

Festival organizers considered this to be the jazz event of the summer. The reason is that The Ultimate Jazz Festival is known for its flare of uniqueness in bringing together musicians from different genres of music to one stage including Latin, R&B, Funk and Smooth Jazz. This year's festival brought some of the hottest acts to the Inland Empire.

Saturday, Leonard Robinson, Program Host, KDEE 97.5 FM, Sacramento returned as Master of Ceremonies. Shilts kicked off the festival with material from his current CD's. The crowd and I were swaying and booping as Shilts sweetened up his set with "Sugar" by the late great saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and concluded his hot set with some cool "Short Island Ice Tea."

DJ Wynn spun tracks in between bands. He kep upt the momentum of the party. No party would be complete without "Stepping Dance" and "Cupid Shuffle."

Urban Jazz Coalition plays a unique blend of smooth R&B jazz. The MC described the band as being a blend of The Jazz Crusaders and Spyra Gyra. Their repertoire included original composition "Saguaro Sunset" and a rousing version of "Birdland" which is a tune that has been recorded by many well known artists.

Nick Collionne is considered the best dressed smooth jazz guitarist on the scene. He is always dressed sharp from head to toe. He charmed his way into the hearts of the crowd with his humorous conversation. The highlight of his set featured a crowd pleasing version "A Rainy Night in Georgia." Nick and his band got down with the blues on "Whose Making Dirty Dishes with You."

Pieces of a Dream is an American R&B/jazz group from Philadelphia. The group was formed in 1976 by bassist Cedric Napoleon, drummer Curtis Harmon, and keyboardist James Lloyd. They performed a solid set of original tunes from their extensive catalog. Their set consisted of "Wake Up Call," "Anywhere You Are," "Mount Airy Groove"-everyone was able to stretched out on this tune, and "Night Vision." Vocalist Ramona Dunlap added her beautiful and powerful voice on several songs "Wished I Never Met You," "The Best is Yet to Come," and an uplifting song "Keep on Striving For The Top."

Tony! Toni! Tone crashed out their Oakland neighborhood in 1988 with Gold debut album Who? which spawned the hit "Little Walter." In 1990, to both critical and popular acclaim, their second album The Revival garnered four #1 hits. The bands continues to tour the United States performing more than 600 sold out concerts. The crowd were delighted as Tony! Toni! Tone included The Ultimate Jazz Festival as part of their tour. They performed a highly energetic set of popular hits which consisted of "It Never Rains (In Southern California), "Anniversary" and "Lay Your Head on my Pillow" just to name a few.

Soul influenced funk group Cameo concluded day one of the festival on a high note.

Sunday, day two of The Ultimate Jazz continued on a beautiful day. The line-up featured saxophonist Jessy J, flautist Althea Rene, Jeff Golub, Euge Groove, and closed out with Keith Sweat.

The Ultimate Jazz Festival was produced by Jazz to be Green, a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise awareness about energy efficiency, green environment, and green jobs through the art of jazz.Their goal is to develop partnerships with local utility companies to create forums for sharing information on how our community can save money by using less energy during their daily activities and in their homes. They are a proud supporters of the Lupus Foundation, a portion of The 3rd Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival will be donated to this worthy cause.