By Ricky Richardson
Ontario - An enthusiastic crowd was in attendance for the 4th Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz to be Green. The festival took place at Guastic Regional Park, Saturday, August 4th and Sunday, August 5th, 2012. An unusually nice, cool summer breeze made the outing all the more enjoyable.
Residents of the Inland Empire don't have to travel all the way to Los Angeles to enjoy quality entertainment. Thanks to Jazz to be Green, the community were able to sit back, relax in their own backyard to listen to smooth sounds of jazz, funk and R&B.
The festival got under way with saxophonist Rodney Taylor. Mr. Taylor arrives on the scene with an impressive resume, having played with or tour with Anita Baker, The Emotions, Doc Powell and Deniece Williams just to name a few. He made a lasting impression on the crowd during his opening set on the following tunes from his current CD Can I Blow For You. HIs set list featured the tunes "Passion," "Midnite Wind," "Can I Blow for You" written for his wife, "My Prerogative," and "Wine Light" by the late great Grover Washington Jr. The band consisted of Rodney Taylor-sax, Keith Rouster-bass, Eddie Miller-keyboards, Andre Frappier-guitar, Noriko Ulling-keyboards and Demetric Collins on drums.
Trumpeter Joey Somerville kicked the festivities into high gear with an engaging set of smooth jazz, funk and R&B on the following tunes "Ride With This," "School Boy Crush," "You Belong to Me," "Caravan," "Swag," and roamed the festival grounds to serenade women on "Like You Mean It."
Keyboardist Nick Smith is another dynamic performer who comes to the festival with extraordinary credentials. He has toured with some heavy hitters in the contemporary smooth jazz genre as well as soul and R&B artists. He stepped out front and center to lead a stellar group of musicians during his crowd pleasing set on "Tender Thoughts," "Monkish," "Mack's Blues," a Latin tinge "Caribbean" and concluded his set with the title track from his latest CD "It's Like That." His bandmate consisted of Nick Smith-keyboards, Kamasi Washington-sax, Vashon Johnson-bass, and Marvin "Smitty"Smith on drums.
Guitarist Nils showcased some smooth jazz grooves with an entertaining set on "Let's Groove," "Sara Smile," "Jump To It," "Europa," and "Get Down & Party" which could have served as the theme song for the 4th Annual Ultimate Jazz Festival.
The crowd and I willingly went back to school to be re-indoctrinated with some Old School Funk, R&B,and soul courtesy of Slave. Throughout their set the crowd were up and dancing on the tunes "We Like to Party With You," "Sizzlin' Hot," "Party Lites," "Baby,Wait For Me," "Watching You," and concluded with an oldie but a goodie "Slide."
The Rick James Stone City Band lead by trumpeter/vocalist La Morris Payne aka (LA SKY) and The Mary Jane Girls performed a special tribue to Rick James to close out day one of the festival.
The festival continued on Sunday with Cal Bennet, Tim Bowman, Paul Taylor, Kevin Toney and Sugarfoot's Ohio Players.
Celebrity Chef Mouton catered the meal for the VIP section and media. On Saturday,he served a mouthwatering array of dishes consisting of Blackened Chicken Breast topped with Sweet Chili Sauce, Grill Tilipia with Lemon Buttersauce, Veg Rice, Vegetarian Pasta, Red Pepper Cabbage and the proverbial icing on the cake featured an assorted Cup Cake display. Celebrity Chef Mouton also worked with E&B Lousiana Connection who served up some delicious catfish.
DJ and Event MC RJ-Ray James provided wonderful tunes in between acts. Leonard Robinson aka Enviro Bro engaged the audience with some Old School humor and enlightened the crowd with information about conserving energy and saving the environment in keeping with the mission and philosophy of the festival organizers. Gene Harris served as Master of Ceremonies. The 4th Annual Jazz to be Green was sponsored by Ontario Volkswagen.
Jazz to be Green is a non-profit public benefit corporation that promotes awareness of Energy Efficiency, Green Environment, and Green Jobs all through the Art of Jazz. Our goal is to develop partnerships with local utility companies to create the forum for shaing information on how our community can save money by using less energy during their daily activities and in their homes.