April 9, 2013

Jump, jive, and swing!

Playboy 2013 comm event.jpg


Get ready to jump, jive and swing when The New Jump Blues, one of the most exuberant foot-stomping musical groups to jump off the national stage, swings into Beverly Hills for a free community concert presented by the Playboy Jazz Festival, Sunday, May 5th. The event which begins at 3:30p.m. will be held at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza located at 450 North Rexford Drive, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Burton Way. The Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Bill Bradbury will open the show.

The concert is the first of Playboy’s free community events being held in conjunction with the upcoming 35th anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival June 15th and 16th, at the landmark Hollywood Bowl. The ‘jump blues’ is an offshoot of the big-band swing era, featuring smaller ensembles with bright horns and irresistible rhythms that “defy standing still,” as described by Billboard Magazine. Lead by dynamic front man Antonio "Huggy Bear" Fargas, the tight combo of veteran musicians are known for their rousing performances and lead singers who blend up tempo elements of blues, jazz and calypso with dazzling choreography in a lively revue-style show. The band’s set will also include a special salute to Cinco de Mayo.

Under the direction of Bill Bradbury, the Beverly Hills High School Jazz Band will perform a selection of music representing various styles of jazz, including blues, swing, rock and Latin.

“Our Beverly Hills concert has become a popular kick-off for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival season, and this year’s roster of talent promises a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center’s attractive outdoor performing arts venue in celebration of our 35thAnniversary Festival,” stated Richard Rosenzweig, president emeritus of the Playboy Jazz Festival.

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase to the public. Glass containers, alcoholic beverages and audio/video recorders are not permitted. Two free hours of parking is available at the Civic Center parking structure, adjacent to the Beverly Hills Public Library. For more information regarding the community concert series or the Playboy Jazz Festival, go to http://www.playboyjazzfestival.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 8:21 PM

May 17, 2012


Written by The Jazz Gypsy

playboy logo.jpg



Headliners include Ramsey Lewis, Robin Thicke, Ozomatli, Sheila E., Boney James and Christian McBride

The Playboy Jazz Festival has added three more acclaimed artists to its stellar 2012 lineup. Showcasing the full spectrum of jazz, the Festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 16th and 17th at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.

Joining the roster of Grammy-winning jazz greats and rising stars are multi Grammy-nominated R&B pianist/composer Patrice Rushen, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian phenomenon Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, and Latin Jazz Bandleader Louie Cruz Beltran.

Rushen will perform on Sunday with Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project, along with other surprise guests from the CD. On Saturday, New Orleans vocalist/percussionist Big Chief Monk will play with The Soul Rebels, bringing the distinctive rhythms of the Mardi Gras Indians from the Crescent City to the Festival stage, and Beltran will appear with his contemporary salsa group, the Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Orchestra.

A classically trained pianist, Rushen is one of music’s most sought after artists, having performed or produced recordings for such legendary stars as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince, Boys II Men, George Benson, and many more. Rushen was also the first woman to serve as Musical Director for the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards, and is also the only woman Musical Director/Composer for the People’s Choice Awards and HBO’s Comic Relief.

Known for his longtime collaborations with Big Chief Bo Dollis in The Wild Magnolias, Big Chief Monk (aka Monk Boudreaux) is the head of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the Gold Eagles. In recent years, he has toured and recorded with the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, a band featuring musicians Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville and Dr. John. He performs regularly in his hometown with John Lisi & Delta Funk and in 2010 appeared in Bury the Hatchet, a feature length documentary by Aaron Walker about the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.

Louie Cruz Beltran, leader of The Louie Cruz Beltran Latin Jazz Orchestra, has performed with such great artists as Tito Puente, Francisco Aquabella, Ray Baretto, Natalie Cole and Gladys Knight, among others. Beltran’s most recent album Paint the Rhythm, spent 12 weeks on the Media Base national smooth jazz charts, reaching #11; his single “Esperando” hit #4.


Single day tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website. Tickets may also be purchased at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:15 AM

May 6, 2012

International Jazz Day in New Orleans

By Ricky Richardson

Several hundred jazz aficionados got an early jolt to their day during the inaugural International Jazz Day in Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz in Louis Armstrong Park, located in historic Fauberg Treme.

The first annual International Jazz Day, April 30th was celebrated with an All-Star concert in New Orleans at sunrise and in New York at sunset.The International Jazz Day was celebrated by millions worldwide. International Jazz Day was presented by UNESCO in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. International Jazz Day was created to celebrate and recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom. International Jazz Day hope to encourage and highlight intercultural dialogue and understanding through jazz, America's contribution to the world of music. There is a popular saying "Jazz made in America; celebrated and enjoyed all over the world." It is also fitting that this inaugural event was held in a park name after Louis Armstrong who is and continues to be a worldwide Jazz Ambassador.

The early morning fog burned off as Luther Gray led a group of percussionist for a Ritual drumming as people arrived in the park. Freddi Williams Evans recited a poem Congo Square: African Americans in New Orleans. Harry Shearer served as Master of Ceremonies.

The Treme Brass Band with Dr. Michael White and Kermit Ruffins performed "Canal Street Blues" with a dash of "When the Saints Go Marching In." New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landreau and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivered remarks in honor of the occassion. International Jazz Day will be celebrated every year on April 30th, the last day of Jazz Appreciation Month.

International Jazz Day is Herbie Hancock's first major program introduced as a Goodwill Ambassador. International Jazz Day was created to celebrate and recognize jazz music as a universal language of freedom. It is intended to unite communities all over the world to celebrate jazz; its roots, and its impact.

Herbie Hancock led a history-making performance of "Watermelon Man" at the International Jazz Day sunrise concert. Herbie Hancock performed with a talented group of students participating in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performing Arts High Schools Jazz Program. In a statement made by Herbie Hancock "It is a thrill and very gratifying to perform this morning with four talented young musicians-and to have thousands of students from all over the world join in the band. Wow - I believe this is a musical first."

Herbie Hancock on piano, Miles Berry - tenor saxophone, Glen Hall III - trumpet, Sarah Kuo - bass and drummer Michael L. Mitchell performed an original composition "Watermelon Man," celebrating its 50th Anniversary. "Watermelon Man" was also performed at the same time with students in Cape Town, South Africa; in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; and in Paris, France live via satellite. For his next tune, Mr. Hancock was joined by Roland Guerin - bass, Terence Blanchard - trumpet, Dr. Michael White - clarinet, Bill Summers - percussions and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums.The band played a rousing version of "Night in Tunisia" by Dizzy Gillespie.

Ellis Marsalis and and the previous group was featured for the next tune. Mr.Marsalis on piano, was joined by vocalist Stephanie Jordon for "On a Clear Day." Kermit Ruffins - trumpet and Dr. Michael White - clarinet rejoined the group for "On the Sunny Side of the Street" with vocals by Kermit Ruffins.

The Treme Brass Band closed out the show with a medley of songs on a celebratory note. A spontaneuos drum circle continued in the park throughout the morning.

Posted by Peter Böhi at 1:33 PM

April 18, 2012

Spaghettini Grill and Lounge in Seal Beach takes top honors for best performance venue!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Spaghettini Grill and Lounge
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740
Reservations/Information: 562.596.2199

Website: https://www.spaghettini.com

Spag bldg w logo.jpg

If you're looking for a place where the music, food, drinks and ambiance are consistently exceptional, then look no further than Spaghettini Grill & Lounge in Seal Beach, California. Established in 1988, by California restauranteurs Laurie Sisnersos and Cary Harwick, Spaghettini's has always been known for their sumptuous Tuscan grilled cuisine, award-winning wine list, and their well-educated, attentive and professional wait staff. However, over the past several years, "Spags", (as it's affectionately known by the locals), has done all the right things to earn a stellar reputation as "THE" best entertainment venue in Southern California.

Since remodeling their Performance Lounge, and upgrading their sound system, Spags has significantly expanded their entertainment calendar to not only include some of the biggest names in the smooth/contemporary jazz industry but they also present A-list artists that are known in the Straight Ahead Jazz, Latin Jazz, Jazz Fusion, and World Music arenas. And, just like a good gumbo, it all seamlessly works together, bridging the sometimes artificial boundaries between various musical genres.

The Music
Here's a small sampling of who has or will be performing there soon:

Smooth Jazz Pixs.jpg
(Photos l to r: Dave Koz, Hiroshima, Jonathan Butler, Row 2: Karen Briggs, Jessy J (photo by Lori Stoll), and Chris Botti)

Smooth/Contemporary Jazz: Hiroshima, Dave Koz, Paul Brown, Lee Ritenour, Ronnie, Laws, Brenda Russell, Najee, Brian Culbertson, Chris Botti, David Benoit, Jonathan Butler, Marion Meadows, Euge Groove, Eric Marienthal, Michael Lington, Jessy J, Craig Chaquico, Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb, Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Jackiem Joyner, Paul Jackson Jr., Michael Paulo, Chris Standring, Jazz in Pink (Gail Jhonson, Karen Briggs, Althea Renee, Jeanette Harris), Gregg Karukas, Steve Oliver, Nils, Tom Braxton, Tim Bowman, Andre Delano, Shilts, Blake Aaron, Darren Rahn, Marcus Anderson, Jonathan Fritzen, Alexander Zonjic, Vincent Ingala, Slim Man, Native Vibe, and Earl R. Johnson, Jr.

Straight Ahead Jazz pixs.jpg

(Photos: l to r: Louie Cruz Beltran, Esperanza Spalding and Les McCann)

Straight Ahead Jazz: Esperanza Spalding, Les McCann, Alphonse Mouzon Quartet, James Torme, Gordon Goodwin's Little Phat Band, Al Williams Jazz Society, Anne Walsh, Brenna Whitaker & Her Little Big Band, Rob Mullins Band, Frank Stallone (yes, Sylvester Stallone's brother)

Latin Jazz: Fattburger, Louie Cruz Beltran, Incendio, Andy Vargas (Lead Singer of Santana)

Jazz Fusion/World Music: Chieli Minucci & Special EFX, Down to the Bone, Lao Tizer w/Karen Briggs, Quattro

Soul/R&B: Evelyn "Champagne" King, Ellis Hall, Ricky Jones,DW3, and Derek Bordeaux

Contemporary/Pop: Spencer Day, Kenny Loggins, David Pack (from Ambrosia),Christine W

Rock/Funk:: Randy Jacobs' Dynamite, Antonio Pontarelli

Blues: Ruby and the Red Hots

Tribute Bands: Terry Steele (Luther Vandross), Pretzel Logic (A Steely Dan Revue), Carlos, The Experience (Santana), Hollywood U2

The Location
Situated conveniently in the middle of Southern California where the 405, 605 an 22 merge together, Spags is easily accessible whether you are traveling from Los Angeles, Long Beach or from Orange County or San Diego. There is ample free parking or valet service for $3.00. Also, Spags frequently partners with the Ayres Hotel across the street, to offer reasonable hotel rates, making it uber convenient for those occasions when you'd like to stay over a Saturday night and return for Spags legendary Sunday Brunch hosted by 94.7 The Wave.

The Venue

spag spaces 60 percent.jpg

Spags is open 7 days a week and it's footprint includes several inviting, warm and beautifully decorated indoor and outdoor spaces that include The Restaurant, The Performance Lounge & Bar, The Bistro, The Library, The Wine Cellar, Enclosed Patio, and The Outdoor Patio. Because of the unique architecture, Spags can accommodate events of all sizes, making it a popular destination spot to meet clients, bring out of town guests, or host a special celebration or event.

Some of the recent and/or regularly occurring events/occasions include: Sunday Brunch live broadcast w/ 94.7 FM, The Wave, Sunday Night Family Dinners w/KOST/103.5 FM, charity events, A Tribute to Wayman Tisdale, Radio Personality Pat Prescott's Birthday Party, Terry Steele's 50th Birthday Celebration, graduation, retirement parties, & more.

The Food

Food pixs.jpg

Open 7 days a week, Spags offers lunch (weekdays), happy hour, dinner, dinner an a show and Sunday Brunch. Their reasonably priced menu offers starters ($10-$24), soups & salads ($7-$24), sandwiches ($13-$16); brick oven pizzas ($12-$14), pastas (19-$29), entrees ($23-$39); sides ($8),and desserts ($5-$12). Some customer favorites include the prime pork chop, Parmesan crusted Chilean sea bass, the New Zealand lamb rack and Spags Executive Chef Victor Avila's signature dish, Pommerey Shrimp.

94 7 dw3.jpg
(Photo: DW3)

Spags legendary Sunday Brunch ($49.95/adults and $14.95/children 12 and under) occurs every Sunday from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. The brunch offers unlimited trips to the antipasto buffet that features over 80 food items, including authentic Italian pastas, fresh California salads, an extensive seafood station, homemade buttermilk waffles, pancakes topped with blueberry compote and a side of brown sugar candied bacon, handmade sushi rolls, and lavish desserts. The brunch also includes your choice of one entree from the regular menu made fresh to order, free-flowing champagne and beverages. Your meal can be enjoyed in one of the many dining rooms or in the performance lounge where there is a live performance by DW3 and a live broadcast by 94.7 The Wave that regularly features special music guests and free giveaways.

The Owners/Staff


Co-owners Cary Hardwick and Laurie Sisneros met while working at a chain restaurant over twenty-one years ago. After learning that they each shared a vision to open their own restaurant, they combined their dreams to birth Spahettini and built the restaurant from the ground up. With an immense passion for food and wine, and a deep respect for the people that they employ, Cary & Laurie have used servant leadership and intensive training to create a staff with the highest level of knowledge and service.


Cary Hardwick has been a teacher for the Cottonwood Leadership College in Los Alamitos, California, since 2002. He has also been involved with a number of local charities, and is on the Board of Directors for The Brianna Fund, which raises awareness and money for children with Cerebral Palsy.

Cary presently owns a consulting and promotions company called C.J. Studios which allows him to speak, teach and work with individuals to develop their businesses. Cary was a scholarship athlete in track and field at both Long Beach City College and Indiana University. In 2009 he was inducted into the Long Beach City College Hall of Champions. He is also an avid surfer who has traveled the world in search of the perfect wave. Cary and his wife Joy live in Long Beach, California and have four children. Cary is available for speaking engagements, management seminars, promotional event planning and business consulting. He can be reached at caryhardwick@yahoo.com.


Laurie Sisneros has been in the restaurant and entertainment business for many years and has a strong passion for all things food, wine and music related. Her love of the business started in Boston, Mass., where she managed entertainment venues for the largest club owner in Boston. She later moved into corporate restaurant management where she had responsibility for over a dozen restaurants throughout Southern California. Following her dream to one day open her own restaurant, Laurie partnered with Hardwick in 1988 to create the legendary Sunday Brunch.

In addition to Spaghettini, Laurie owns a business consulting firm called Wine & Dine Enterprises which allows her to share her knowledge and experience with others who are trying to develop a new or existing business. Along with a complete staff of highly qualified professionals, Wine & Dine Enterprises brings over thirty years of proven expertise to assist others in achieving their goals.

Laurie actively works to improve her community. She has helped to build a home for Habitat for Humanity, tutored elementary school children with learning challenges and was a literacy teacher for adults who were unable to read. She also co-founded a program within the Orange County Probation Department that mentored juvenile offenders and their families.

Laurie has a husband Fred and a mischievous sheepdog named Barney. She loves to travel the four corners of the world, where she is able to further explore her love of food, wine and music. She has taught a management seminar in Vietnam, attended cooking and wine classes in Italy, and sailed the Caribbean with the world’s top jazz artists, all in the name of following and developing her passions.

Laurie is available for speaking engagements, management seminars and all levels of business consulting. She can be reached at lauriesisneros@yahoo.com


Vienna Yip, a.k.a. JazzieGirl
Vienna works closely with co-owner Cary Hardwick to bring a diverse array of entertainment to Spags. She is the Jazz Music Director @ FM88.5-KSBR, a Contemporary Jazz station at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California. She is instrumental in bringing the music of talented musicians to listeners all over the world. She is particularly proud that she can help deserving indie artists to get airplay, whose music would not otherwise be heard on commercial stations.

An engineer by trade, Vienna had a great run for the money, but her life-long passion for music led her to her current career in the music industry. As a teenager, she used to save up all her allowance for concert tickets and has been regularly going to clubs to see and support live bands for over thirty years. As a result she has made many life-long friendships with musicians.

Vienna owns her own business, JazziGirl Productions, and is an Artist Representative where she has earned a stellar reputation through her impeccable work ethic, unquestionable integrity, detailed follow-through and always going above and beyond what is required and expected. Working with a roster of over 80 artists in all genres of music, she books artists/groups into various clubs, venues, festivals, and private events. For Vienna, no venue is too big or too small. She can work within your budget to book a solo artist all the way up to a 12-piece big band, and anywhere in between. She can book Steely Dan & Eagles tribute bands, Motown cover bands, old school R&B bands, and music from the 70's, 80's & the disco era. Vienna is currently looking for opportunities to expand her business into the international arena. For bookings: Email JazzieGirlProductions@gmail.com, or call 949.582.2956. You can find her online at: http://jazziegirlproductions.blogspot.com/


Q was the Entertainment Director at Spags for many years. He now enjoys his position as the Sound Engineer, working to insure that the artists deliver the best listening experience for the audience. The last Wednesday of every month at Spags, "Q" presents Q's favorite artists. Q is an avid surfer and also works with The Dave Koz & Friends Cruise franchise.

Upcoming Calendar
4/21 (Sat) - Jonathan Fritzen - CD Release Party - 7:30pm - $25
4/22 (Sun) - Sunday Brunch w/DW3 $10; Evening Show The Droppers - 6:30pm - $10
4/23 (Mon) - Oak Middle School Fundraiser - 6:30pm - $10
4/24 (Tues) - Chris Standring Dinner & Show - CD Release Party - 7:00pm - $55
4/25 (Wed) - Q's Favorite presents Michael Parlett - 7:00pm - $10
4/26 (Thurs) - DW3 - 7:30pm - $10
4/27 (Fri) - Earl R. Johnson Jr. - 7:30pm - $20
4/28 (Sat) - Nocy - 7:30pm - $20
4/29 (Sun) - Sunday Brunch w/DW3 - $10; Evening Show - Native Vibe - 6:30pm - $20

Please check their website for additional shows and more details: http://www.spaghettini.com.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 10:03 PM

March 21, 2012

Wedding Bells To Ring For Two Smooth Jazz Musicians

Joined by more than music, virtuosic guitarist and producer, Emmanuel “U-Nam” Abiteboul and saxophonist and vocalist, Shannon Kennedy are set to wed this April at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, CA. The pair began their collaboration as musicians when U-Nam invited Kennedy to join his band.

Shannon Unam smaller.jpg

Born and raised in Paris / France, U-Nam began playing the guitar at age 12, and studied for three years at the Paris-based CIM – the first European school for jazz – between 1986 and 1989. At age 19 he turned professional, becoming a fixture at Paris studio sessions. Well known throughout Europe and the US as a musical trendsetter and innovative player in Instrumental Music, Soul, and R&B, U-Nam has more than earned his reputation as a virtuosic guitarist and producer.

Since his move to the US from Paris, France in 2007, U-Nam, has worked with a number of international artists including Barry White, Kool & the Gang, Honeyz, Louis Fonsi, and MC-Solaar, earning him several Gold and Multi-Platinum records. In 2007, he established himself as a prominent solo artist with the release his sophomore album, “Back from the 80s” which included the #1 hit “Street Life”. “Street Life” stayed in the top three on the US Billboard Charts for three months and the top ten charts for an entire year.

U-Nam has three album releases as a solo artist. “The Past Builds the Future” (2005) was #2 on Solar Radio UK (the largest soul radio station in the UK). The album had significant radio airplay in Europe and made it into the Top 47 on the US charts. “Back from the 80s” (2007) was the number one album of the year on Jazz FM, Steve Quirk’s Fusion Flavours, as well as a #1 on the US Billboard Charts. His latest release “Unanimity” (2009) has reached the Top 30 on the US Billboard charts with his hit single “Shine On”.

Shannon Kennedy is recognized as an extraordinarily multifaceted artist, composer, producer, performer, recording artist and music instructor. By maintaining diversity as a performer and composer, she has developed an exciting and constantly evolving career in contemporary music.

Kennedy has recently been stepping out as a compelling lead vocalist with singles including No One To Catch Me (2010) and Falling Slowly (2010). She will also be performing as a vocalist with K.A.S.E. 87, an energetic, youthful and electrifying new group performing and recording a fusion of hip hop, contemporary jazz and electro.

Kennedy has been performing professionally since 2005 and has recorded and performed with artists like Peter White, 10,000 Maniacs, Craig Chaquico (Jefferson Starship), Greg Adams (Tower of Power), Kirk Whalum, Chieli Minucci, Nick Colionne and U-Nam.

As a solo artist, Kennedy has released four full albums and several singles including "Angel Eyes" (2005), "Steppin Up" (2007), "Never My Love" (2007), and "Almost that Time of Year" (2009). She is currently working on her debut vocal album.

The smooth jazz community wishes the pair best wishes on the union.

To find out more about the artists and their music:

Posted by JazzGypsy at 11:08 PM

March 2, 2012


Saturday, June 16, 2012, 3:00 P.M. --11:00 P.M.
Sunday, June 17, 2012, 3:00 P.M. -- 10:30 P.M.

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, California

The Annual Playboy Jazz Festival (PJF) is one of the most highly anticipated events of the season, whether you’ve only been once of 33 times! The all-star line up on stage is equally matched by the festivities in the 19,000 seat venue nestled gracefully in the Hollywood Hills.

The eclectic mix of music, including straight ahead & contemporary jazz, blues, Latin, R&B, and beyond, draws a diverse audience of couples, foursomes, and even large groups of 20 or more. Tables in the VIP, garden, and box seats are adorned by festival goers with linens, floral displays, candles and dinnerware. Hours before and during the concert are filled with happy people passing containers with every type of food imaginable, along with Champagne, wine, beer, and other beverages. No one is a stranger, as everyone quickly bonds with the people sitting around them…sharing small talk, laughs, food and more.

I’ve always believed that an event reflects the spirit of its producer and this is certainly true in this instance. The PBJ is the embodiment of Hugh Hefner’s vision to promote great music without regard to artificial boundaries of race, class and genre of music. You can always count on seeing an array of internationally known, A-list artists as well as some up and coming break-out groups and musicians. This year is no different.

June 16, 2012, 3:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M.
(Artist line-up, subject to change)

-THE LAUSD / BEYOND THE BELL ALL CITY JAZZ BAND under the direction of Tony White and J.B. Dyas

Sunday, June 17, 2012, 3:00 P.M. - 10:30 P.M.
(Artist line-up, subject to change)

-CALABASAS HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ A BAND under the direction of Joshua Barroll

BILL COSBY, Master of Ceremonies


Single day tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting February 16th. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website.
Tickets may also be purchased at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office beginning May 5th.

Park & Ride: For further information on Park & Ride and shuttle lots, please call (323) 850-2000.

On-site Parking is extremely limited. For information, call (323) 850-2000.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:46 AM

July 28, 2011

It's not just the music that makes BB Jazz so great!

By The Jazz Gypsy

BB Jazz present
9th Annual BB Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Huntington Beach Central Park
7111 Talbert Avenue,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648.


BB Jazz has a killer line-up as usual but it's not just the music that makes BB Jazz so great. Every festival has it's own "personality" or "vibe" that is a direct result of the producers.

We've all been to those mega and even mini festivals that make you feel like you are entering a police state because they have so many restrictions and inconveniences from just getting in the venue, to inadequate, costly or difficult parking. And my personal pet peeve is with those venues that don't accommodate people who want to dance.

BB Jazz is just the opposite of that.

The Venue
Huntington Beach Central Avenue Park is filled with lush, green spaces and mature shade trees so there's no need to line-up at 2am to insure you'll get a good spot. Also, by design, every area of the park has excellent sight lines to the stage and the vendor village is only steps away. The venue is also "disability friendly" with paved walk ways and terrain that is easy to navigate by wheel chair and for those walking with canes.

The Entertainment
What a great mix of contemporary jazz and R&B: Rachell Ferrell, The Tony Rich Project, Kindred The Family Soul, Gentlemen of the Night w/Marion Meadows, Warren Hill, Paul Taylor, Time Bowman and Brian Simpson with special guest Elan Trotman. What's not to love?

The Vibe
Upscale but oh so cool! Everybody is there to have a good time including the producers, Betty and Corky Benish. Betty will be the first one on the dance floor and the last to stop dancing, while Corky is calling you out if you're not up and on your feet. BB Jazz is where you can relax, enjoy good music, eat great food, mix and mingle with old and new friends while partying the whole time. And, I must mention LA's favorite DJ, Jonathan Phillips, is always there to keep the party rockin'.

There is ample, FREE parking, on-site and steps away from the entry. This is a huge plus!!

A Party with a Purpose
You can feel good knowing that your ticket purchase is going to a good cause because BB JAZZ is a non-profit organization and all proceeds benefit Children's charities!

For Tickets or more info go to www.bbjazz.com or call 714 377-7574

The VIP area at BB Jazz is exceptional:
VIP Platinum Tables w/dinner & two drinks included $185.00
VIP Gold Chair Seat w/dinner $130.00
VIP Bronze Chair Seat behind Tables/ no dinner $90.00

VIP tickets for children are the same price! Food purchased from the vendors is allowed in the VIP area during the day. The VIP Bar will have all necessary beverages, (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) available.

There is ample shaded areas and executive bathrooms in the VIP Area. Enjoy the music and mingle with the artists.


GENERAL $45.00 lawn seating bring your own blanket,low back chair and picnic.
Children between 6 &12 years are $10.00 for lawn seating.

Small coolers allowed or purchase food and beverage at the incredible vendor village. All types of food and merchandise will be in the village this year. DO NOT BRING ANY BEVERAGES EXCEPT FOR WATER.

There is great visibility of the main stage from all areas of the park. Come early and find your special spot. Lots of shady trees and PARKING IS FREE!

HOTEL HUNTINGTON BEACH call 714 891-0123, ask for BB Jazz Rate @$75

BB Jazz is on Facebook,Twitter & You Tube. Go to www.bbjazz.com for updates, video and music.


Posted by JazzGypsy at 7:19 PM

July 18, 2011

Andre Delano with Special Guest Tom Braxton to perform at INFINITI Summer Concert Series

By The Jazz Gypsy

INFINITI Summer Concert Series
Hyatt Regency, Newport Beach
June 24-September 30, 2011
Fridays, 8 p.m.

The Hyatt Regency Concert Series is billed as the longest running jazz series in the country. As such, you can expect to see a parade of smooth jazz greats every Friday night at 8pm from June 24 through September 30th.


I am particularly excited about seeing two phenomenal saxophonists, Andre Delano and Tom Braxton August 12th. For many of us, our leisure time is spent traveling from festival to festival or concert to concert and we see the same artists over and over again playing the exact same set list with the same scripted "filler" dialogue. Therefore, having the opportunity to see some fresh faces with fresh music in one of my favorite venues is a huge plus! Andre Delano and Tom Braxton may not be household names but they should be as both are veteran musicians and performers.

To hear more of their music visit www.andredelano.com/ and www.tombraxton.com/

The 2011 Concert Lineup

* July 22 – Mindi Abair with Jeff Golub and Special Guest David Pack

* July 29 – Hiroshima

* August 5 – “Soul of Summer” Starring Jonathan Butler with Maysa and Eric Darius

* August 12 – Andre Delano with Special Guest Tom Braxton

* August 19 – Steve Tyrell

* August 26 – “Sax Pack” – Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Shilts with Nick Colionne

* September 2 – Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

* September 9 – “Summer Jam” Starring Richard Elliott and Norman Brown

* September 16 – Christopher Cross

* September 23 – “Jazz Attack” – Starring Gerald Albright, Peter White and Rick Braun

* September 30 – The Manhattan Transfer

Posted by JazzGypsy at 11:27 PM


Written by The Jazz Gypsy


Rainbow Promotions presents the 24th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, Friday-Sunday August 12-14, 2011, a festive summertime setting at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach. In keeping with this year’s people-pleasing theme, “Jazz—The Way You Like It,” Rainbow Promotions has once again prepared the perfect cross pollination of “fan favorites” from the worlds of contemporary jazz and R&B to tantalize the tastes of the festival’s perennial attendees.

This year’s mighty line-up features electrifying legendary singer Charlie Wilson (former member of the GAP Band), Quiet Storm popular artist KEM, thrilling bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson, the magnificently mellow Michael Franks, slow jam treasures The Whispers, all-around jazz sax master Everette Harp, plus two very special pairings : smooth groovin’ saxophonist Kim Waters with R&B singer Kenny Lattimore and the “Smooth Side of Soul,” collaboration with saxophone legend Najee, veteran piano man Alex Bugnon and R&B crooner supreme Howard Hewett. And that’s just a taste of a three-day musical feast!

 As one of Southern California’s longest running and eagerly anticipated annual music events, the Long Beach Jazz Festival brings music lovers from around the world –year after year- with its always dynamic blend of sounds and unique coastal venue offering relaxation for every generation.  A family affair, party people of all ages enjoy the festival grounds, the various food vendors with mouthwatering multi-cultural on-site prepared delights and desserts and, of course, some of the finest music and top artists for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Veteran promoter and musician Al Williams, as is his tradition, will be gracing the stage on Sunday afternoon with his eclectic Al Williams Jazz Society, celebrating the popularity of their latest CD, Something to Groove About. Williams states, “More than ever before, we really listened to the people to bring them the jazz and jazzy R&B stars they love the best. I truly believe this is one of the most exciting 3-day lineups we’ve had in quite some time…and we’ve had some thrillers!”

On Friday August 12, Brian Culbertson brings his full throttle band of rhythm and horns as the headliner of opening night, followed by jazzy R&B mavericks “Smooth Side of Soul featuring Najee, Howard Hewett and Alex Bugnon. The evening will begin at sundown with the sweet sounds of singer/songwriter Kori Withers (daughter of the R&B griot Bill Withers, as seen in his acclaimed new documentary, “Still Bill”).

On Saturday August 13, romance and reminiscing will fill the air with soulful swingin’ harmonies of The Whispers, poetic jazz man Michael Franks (who will be drawing from his latest release Time Together), the dynamic duo of Kim Waters & Kenny Lattimore, jazzy neo soul princess Amel Larrieux, and effervescent sax great Everette Harp (playing straight ahead and contemporary jazz). The day will begin with the heartbeat of the drums as the Long Beach Jazz Festival presents this year’s winner of “The Next Great Drummer!”

On Sunday August 14, soul lovers will be knocked out by the one-two punch of adopted “LBC” Godfather Charlie Wilson and firmly established superstar KEM. Jazz will be in plentiful supply thanks to Al Williams’ Jazz Society and urban jazz up-and-comer saxophonist Jackiem Joyner, plus horn-fortified funkologists Down to the Bone, and this year’s winner of the festival’s annual “Jazz Search” Winner (tba).

Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions at (562) 424-0013, or online at www.longbeachjazzfestival..com  VIP tickets--$155 on Friday and $180 per seat on Saturday and Sunday—include dinner and wine service. Reserved box seat tickets are $60 on Friday and $75 per seat on Saturday and Sunday. General admission/lawn seating is $45 (prior to August 5th) and $50 at the gate.  Friday-Gates open at 5pm.  Saturday and Sunday-Gates open at 11:00am.

This year’s sponsors for the 24th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival are US Bank, Budweiser and Charter Communications

About Rainbow Promotions
Rainbow Promotions is the producer of the Long Beach Jazz Festival and other concerts throughout the year.  For 23 years, Rainbow Promotions has presented the Long Beach Jazz Festival, one of the city’s major events.  For more information regarding the Long Beach Jazz Festival, go to www.longbeachjazzfestival.com or www.rainbowpromotions.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 5:57 PM

June 9, 2011

Ronnie Laws' Harmony 3 Set to Peform at the Playboy Jazz Festival

Written by The Jazz Gypsy


Playboy Jazz Festival
Sat. & Sun., June 11 & 12, 2011

Good seats still available - Call today!!

Hollywood Bowl
2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90068


In our "new world" where music greats are marketed as having been born overnight we sometimes don't appreciate those music giants and icons that were the pioneers and trail blazers in their respective areas of music. So, it was my extreme pleasure to speak with a true legend, Mr. Ronnie Laws.

Ronnie Laws.jpeg

During the interview, I was both a fan and journalist and happy to blur the lines between the two. What a joy it was to hear Ronnie talk about how he began, the influence his mother had on him becoming a saxophonist and providing him with the musical toolbox from where he would draw his unique sound from.

Laws also talks about the power of being exposed, even accidentally, to music at a young age, his thirst to learn, the courage to take risks, how to achieve goals and the importance of being principled, adaptable and focused.

It was quite a revealing interview with a lot of sound advice for musicians and people in general.

The Jazz Gypsy: Good morning. I've seen you play and enjoyed your performances many times. I still have your first album in my garage.

Laws: "Pressure Sensitive?"

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes.

Laws: Well, hold on to it.

The Jazz Gypsy: Well, I can get rid of a lot of stuff, but that's not one of them.

Laws: Well vinyl is coming back.

The Jazz Gypsy: Is that right?

Laws: Definitely.

The Jazz Gypsy: That's a good thing.

Laws: Yes it is because the quality can't really be matched with digital stuff. It just doesn't sound like vinyl.

The Jazz Gypsy: Well, I've read your background and your musical career started when you when you were relatively young...how did you know you wanted to play the saxophone?

Laws: It wasn't an issue about whether I wanted to play or not, it was a gift that I appreciated at a very young age. Being around in a musical environment sort of propelled me as well. My mother, being very instrumental in directing us musically, exposed us to a lot of different genres of music, gospel, classical, jazz, the whole gamut, blues. So that helped me a lot. Having older brothers and sisters involved in the musical realm, that was inspiring as well.

Jazz Gypsy: Was the saxophone the first instrument that you picked up, because what if you weren't good at that?

Laws: Yes. I remember that my mom was expressing to me her wish when she was in school. She wished that she had taken up saxophone and so in my own way I was saying, "I'll play it for you". So, I just sort of picked it up. My brother-in-law was instrumental in me picking up the saxophone because he played saxophone, not really for self gratification. He wasn't really an accomplished player or musicians. He just did it as a hobby. I used to follow him around and hang out with him because my older brother Hubert was off studying at Julliard and my brother Johnny was in the military so my brother-in -law was sort of like a surrogate brother. I used to hang around him and occasionally he would pick up the saxophone. When I was very young, around 10 years old, I used to watch him, and I was fascinated by him. And, I loved the sound of the instrument. Even though he wasn't that good. [laughter] But one day, I remember him taking a little break from playing and putting the horn on the bed and he went off and was having lunch or something and I picked it up and tried to figure out the keys and how they worked. And the next thing he knew, he heard me playing a scale and he was blown away because he said that with all the time he spent playing the instrument he didn't have that immediate grasp of being able to play a scale, particularly when he first started. So, he was really amazed and he encouraged me. He said, "Wow, you seem to have a good ear for this". So he encouraged me and I asked him if I could keep it and he let me do that. then, I just got an elementary method book and I learned how to play the scales and learned the complete fingering on the instrument and sort of taught myself. Then when I entered junior high and high school I got more formal training. And, the rest is history.

Jazz Gypsy: When did you decide you wanted to make it a career?

Laws: I knew at a very young age that that was what I wanted to do. As a kid you have multiple interests. I played a lot of baseball and I loved it but the saxophone was my first love. I felt complete playing that instrument. Even at 12 years old, I had become pretty accomplished on the instrument. In fact, I think, one of the first professional engagements I was asked to perform was with Kenny Rogers, the country singer who is a native Houstonian. My sister was performing as a background singer with him and she was telling him about her younger brother who played saxophone and so he said, "Bring him, bring him to the club, let's check him out". And, that's exactly what happened and I went up there and started playing and he was blown away. So, I got a chance to perform with him and my sister for a couple of weeks. That was an incredible debut for a youngster playing with someone like Kenny Rogers.

Jazz Gypsy: Absolutely.

Laws: [laughter] From that point on, I became more established in the circuitry, the music circuit in Houston and then eventually in all of Texas. Then, I went to college in East Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University then Texas Southern University. But the depth of my musical education and exposure was when I was featured and playing with older musicians. That was really my training ground because I learned so much from people who were much farther advanced than I was. It was like on the job training and I learned fast. I was really inspired by the way that they performed. I had some great mentors growing up with the guys that became The Jazz Crusaders. I used to watch them practice and rehearse when they were teenagers. I used to sit in the corner after school and run over to where they were rehearsing and just sit in the corner and listen.

Jazz Gypsy:
That is amazing. And what about Hugh Masekela?

Laws: I joined up with Hugh Masekela after I left Earth, Wind and Fire. I got married around 20 years old and my wife and I moved to Los Angeles and that was like I was almost starting all over again. I had pretty much accomplished quite a bit of a status in Texas and was established and had gotten some write ups in DownBeat from Leonard Feather. And when I used to compete in college in some of the states where they had jazz festivals across the country I got some national recognition. But then, I left college as a junior and got married and moved to Los Angeles and started developing a reputation here and I got a call to audition for Earth, Wind and Fire. They had just left Warner Brothers and they were getting ready to sign with CBS and Maurice had me audition. I was thinking I was going to be part of a horn section and much to my surprise, Maurice just said, "No, I think we'll just go ahead with the one horn". [laughter] Which was pretty unique.

Jazz Gypsy: Exactly.

Laws: So, I was a part of the original group before they signed with CBS and it was a great experience. It was very interesting because even when I was with them, I always had the goal of being a solo artist but I had to work and because I had a family, a wife, to support and a baby coming so I tried to garner as much work as I could. It was a good call to be a part of that group where I developed some very close friendships while being in the group. Larry Dunn, the keyboard player, is one of my best friends and Phillip Bailey, Maurice, all the guys...it was like a family situation. Before signing with CBS, I had decided I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to commit to indefinitely being a part of a group situation so I left and decided not to sign, which was a big, big decision because it was a crossroad of my career and because we were expecting a baby and at that point I hadn't established myself very well financially. So,it was a bold decision to walk off from a group situation because I knew they were going to be epic....a huge, huge group. But I stuck to my guns and decided that if I wanted to be a solo artist I had to direct my efforts towards that so I left and eventually joined up with Hugh Masekela and worked with him for about a 1 1/2 years. After leaving Hugh, I put together all the elements, with the help from the Creator, to sign with my first solo contract with Blue Note Records and the rest is history. [laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: Well, you've made some great intuitive choices like when your brother-in-law left the sax sitting there and you picked it up, [laughter] , then you deciding you didn't want to be in a group and you struck out on your own. That was a bold decision at that time.

Laws: I enjoyed the experience. Those guys were like family but once you set a goal you have to stick to that, to working towards that goal. I had no guarantee as to how that was going to work out. All I just knew was that I needed to put all my effort and energy into accomplishing that. And, again with grace and help from the Creator it all worked out and I'm very grateful as to how it all turned out for me because it's not always a guarantee that it's going to always work out the way you plan it.

The Jazz Gypsy: Exactly. With so many sax players out there, how is it that you have your own unique sound? How do you distinguish your playing from others?

Laws: [hearty laughter] That's a good point. I get asked that a lot...all the time actually throughout my career I've always been asked that question. I can only attribute it to expressing, through the instrument, my personality, your personality, who you are. The instrument is only what it is. It's just a tool to express yourself. Whether it's the human voice, the violin, the guitar, the drums or whatever, it's just a tool or a channel in which you can express your personality, and your feelings and who you are. Also, I've always appreciated..well I came along during an era and it was paramount that that you have your own unique style and your own signature as an artist. Not necessarily sounding like someone else. You know we are all influenced by other artists or our environment but for the most part I've always wanted to be unique and express how I felt through the instrument...so it just comes out that way.

The Jazz Gypsy: So, not being a musician myself, all I understand is that there are notes on a page and you line up four saxophonists and they have the same notes to play but when you play it it's different.

Laws: [hearty laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: How do you do that? That's like magic to people that are not musicians. [hearty laughter from both]

Laws: Well, you know, ask Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder ...why is it that they are unique.

The Jazz Gypsy: But that's a voice. That's different. How do you do that with your instrument?

Laws: Well, I guess you can say I am singing through my instrument. I'm projecting....I've gotten that comment from some of my peers who are musicians. They say, "Ronnie, actually you are singing through your instrument". Even when I sing vocally, the phrasing and the way I enunciate is similar to the way I play, so maybe that has a lot to do with it.

The Jazz Gypsy: Okay, so I'll accept that. [laughter by both] Also, I was reading on your website where you received a lot of flack for the type of music that you were doing. How would you look back on that now seeing how music has evolved?

Laws: Well, I didn't receive a whole lot of criticism. I received very little criticism but the criticism I did receive was mainly by people that really didn't know or appreciate my complete background. They had this vision of me following in the footsteps of my brother who was known as a straight ahead, classical musician. And, I've had classical training as well. But the point is I come from different genres of music as my musical experience....when you play with Earth, Wind and Fire, Hugh Masekela, you know. I grew up listening to blues frequently, listening to Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, and then you had the Motown era during the 60's. So I grew up in that. So when I play, it's genuine, it's not pretentious it's not just doing something to be popular. I'm just trying to express my musical experience and I drew from all different genres of music and different eras of music. So you're going to hear blues and some r&b, you're going to hear some jazz and a little classical in what I do because that was all a part of the music culture that I grew up in.

The Jazz Gypsy: You know, I think that's what explains your sound. It's a blend of all of that. And some times certain things are emphasized a little more than others.

Laws: That's very, very true. Actually, I'm very thankful for that...to be diverse and to have that versatility. I've always said...well, I equate it to almost being bilingual where you can communicate on all different levels.

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes! [every excitedly] Yes, that's what it is. [laughter] I think you explained "your sax voice" in a way that I can understand it a lot better because we hear it but we just didn't know where that was coming from, how you did it. [laughter from both]

Laws: It's just a gift, like I said. You're right when you talk about the human voice. I look at different singers and then there are musicians, you listen to... John Coltrane and you immediately know who that is. B.B. King can play one or two notes on his guitar and you say, "That's B.B. King". [laughter] It's a very unique gift and not many musicians or artists have that. That's why I look at it as a gift and I consider myself to be very blessed to have that.

The Jazz Gypsy: Also, you've been able to build and sustain a life-long career in the industry. How do you stay balanced and what advice do you have for young musicians?

Laws: Being adaptable doesn't equate or necessarily mean compromise. It means that you are selective as well as you are progressive in your thinking. You are progressive and you are open for other ideas that are offered to you or what you see or hear. So you sort of decipher how you want to incorporate that with what you do. We are all influenced by something, outside elements. Its about how we want to incorporate it into who we are, how do you want to fit it into what you do. So that's the way I Iook at it. And, there's a discipline involved and a social responsibility you should have as an artist. You just don't do anything to be popular. I really feel you have to be a principled person and understand that your music carries some weight because it impacts people and you should use that in a responsible way not to encourage stupidity and being irresponsible. So I try to put into my music some value, something positive and constructive. Something that's not good. For young people you have to prepare yourself and to set goals about what you want to do. You can't have a goal and walk through life aimlessly. So if you set a goal, work towards that goal and stay focused then 9 times out of 10 you're going to accomplish it.

The Jazz Gypsy: I love, love, love your answer to that. It really applies, not to just young people, and not just musicians but to people in general. That's excellent what you said.

Laws: Well, that's straight from the heart and having done this for a long time. Everyday is a challenge though, every day. Because you have elements out there that are counter to what you are trying to maintain and achieve. So you have to stay focused.

The Jazz Gypsy: So, I have two more questions for you. You will be performing at he upcoming Playboy Jazz Festival on Sunday, June 12th with Harmony 3 that includes Walter Beasley and Stanley Jordan. Have you played with them before and what can we expect?

Laws: I've played with them before. In fact, Stanley and I, back in the 70's and 80's, we've done several concerts together and have been featured at the same festivals. And Walter and I, over the last 15 years, developed a good relationship as fellow artists. You know he's one of the younger saxophonist that I really have a lot of respect for because of the way that he carries himself and the way he's maintained his career. He's a music professor at Berklee School of Music in Boston. But beside from that, when we first met, we sort of hit it off and I'm a lot older than he is [laughter] but we have similar approaches to what we do musically. So it's going to be great working with them as a package because I came up with the name Harmony 3. It's a package that's won't just feature Walter Beasley and Stanley [Jordan]. In the future, it may alternate with other people that I've worked with over the years that I want to include as part of that package.

The Jazz Gypsy: That will be great.

Laws: So if Stanley or Walter, because of scheduling, won't be able to perform on the package, there will be other people I will bring in as an alternate. So Harmony 3 is inclusive of my friends, those I have a great deal of respect and admiration for that I've worked with over the years. And, it may even include some new and upcoming people that I have a great deal of respect for. It's a formula for presenting some of the iconic people that I have worked with over the years that for some reason or another don't get the type of exposure or respect that they deserve. That was the concept of putting this package together.

The Jazz Gypsy: I love that. That is excellent. Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about?

Laws: That's about it. [laughter by both] Well, I have a young son that's a very accomplished saxophonist. My goal is to be more active in promoting some of the younger artists and musicians and to try and be a mentor to some of the young musicians that are coming up, and share my experience with them and hopefuly help to direct them in the right way.

The Jazz Gypsy: I think I saw your son perform with you. Is his name Javone.

Laws: Jamon.

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes, I think it was at the Inglewood Jazz Festival.

Laws: Yes, he was just a teenager then. But he has really matured so I'm trying to help get his situation moving. So he's forming a group and has a CD project in the works and I want to be as much encouragement to him as I can as well as to other young guys that are coming up like that.

The Jazz Gypsy: Well, Ronnie, thank you so much for your time and all that you said.

Laws: My pleasure.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:24 PM

June 2, 2011

An intimate interview with Ndugu Chancler: Honoring the music through the drums.

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Upcoming Concerts:
-Free Playboy Jazz Concert, Sunday, June 5, 2011
-The 33rd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival
Details at: http://www.playboyjazzfestival.com/

New music by Ndugu:
-Ndugu Chancler Old Friends Live
-high TIME


The Jazz Gypsy: Good Morning, Ndugu. I've seen and enjoyed your performances many times and most recently it was at Disney Hall for the Sacred Music of Duke Ellington concert. It was fabulous. The audience loved it, but what was that like for you?

Ndugu: There's a whole connection to Duke that goes back to 1971 for me. The first time I saw Duke Ellington was in Newark, NJ in 1971. Duke Ellington and James Brown were on the same program in a ballroom in NJ. I saw the band and later that year, I went to Europe with Miles Davis and we shared the bus with Duke Ellington. So that was the first connection where I got to hang out with everyone in the band, and hear them play every night.

Later in the 80's when Mercer Ellington, had taken over the band, the same thing happened when I was in Europe again. So when we did this sacred music concert, the spirit of all those guys that Duke had written that music for started coming out in me. And the first one was Harry Carney playing that baritone sax. I was wondering, how would Duke write all this music for the baritone sax and then I remembered Harry Carney and it was like the spirit of Harry Carney was coming back to me and I was seeing all of those guys playing that music of Duke. So I saw Cootie Williams [trumpets], Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves [tenor sax]. I saw all of those people. So when I really got into the music of that sacred concert it was based on honoring those legends

The Jazz Gypsy: For the audience, we were speechless because we've never seen anything like that before.

Ndugu: It was an honoring of Duke in that music for us. So we got, probably more out of it, musically and spiritually than the audience did because the audience was looking at it from a musical standpoint and we [the musicians] were looking at it from a whole evolution, emotional and spiritual standpoint.

The Jazz Gypsy: That leads me to my next question. You've played across the whole musical spectrum, from pop, traditional jazz, smooth jazz, r&b, rock & roll, blues....you've played with everybody. What are the similarities and the differences in the music itself and and then how do you approach each genre of music artistically?

Ndugu: Great question. The jazz in me affords me the luxury of being able to cross all the channels particularly because jazz was the impetus that inspired me to want to start playing and have my own voice. The other genres were the genres of being contemporary and being popular. So, when I'm playing, I always take the jazz approach to try to bring something new while honoring the tradition of what ever that music is.

Also, my generation came up listening to radio and radio was everything....Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Motown, Sly and the Family Stone...it was all that mixed together. So, you didn't draw a line that said this is jazz and this is rock. It was all music. Later on they started segmenting the music to give it different divisions and genres but we looked at all of it as just music. And, you go back to what Duke always said, "There's only two kinds of music, good music and bad music". It's not genre specific. For me, I've always enjoyed listening to and playing all kinds of music, so, any time I play any genre or any style, I try and honor the lineage of that style while bringing something fresh. I take the jazz approach of being open but honoring the tradition.

The Jazz Gypsy: There are a lot of drummers in the world and you are listed in the top 25 and in many people's minds you are in the top 2. What makes your sound unique and how do you distinguish your playing from others?

Ndugu: Roots. Let's start with the roots of it based on the African concept but my approach to playing the drums is not just with the drum being involved in it. My approach is ....I look at myself as I play drums but I am really playing all of the voices of the music that I hear through the drums. So it's not always from a drum perspective. Because the drum perspective, a lot of times, people get so into the drums that they don't get into the music. And, I always try and honor the music through the drums. So anytime I'm playing, I'm trying to get the maximum amount of music out of what I'm doing.

The Jazz Gypsy: You also wear a lot of hats...producer, composer, clinician, teacher, musician. As a teacher what makes a good student and as a student, what makes a good teacher?

Ndugu: A good student is anyone that is receptive to learning. What makes a good teacher is the ability to adapt to translating the message of the lesson to your students so they get it. So, not [just] having a formalized way of delivering what ever the lesson is but being able to adapt to your students. I have to be honest with you, I teach a black student differently than I teach a white student and I teach a white student differently than I teach a Latino student because you have to make it all relate-able to who you're teaching and come to them on a level that opens the flood gates for them to be receptive to receiving the knowledge.

The Jazz Gypsy: I read that you started playing the drums at 13.

Ndugu: Yes, and that was late. The reason for that was because I wanted to play [the drums] since age 6 but the school system denied me because they wanted me to play a different instrument. So I just held onto the passion and let it lay dormant in my body like a virus.

The Jazz Gypsy: So, how were you able to start [playing] at 13? And, how did you already know you wanted to play the drums?

Ndugu: How did I know I wanted to play the drums? I still don't know where that came from because I was born and spent the early part of my childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had never seen a band. I had never seen any drummers and I didn't know any. I think it was, well, you know how they say "Your gift is given to you and you have to recognize it". I think I just recognized it and let it lay until I had the opportunity in school to start playing. Then, once I started playing, that was confirmation that that was exactly what I wanted to do.

The Jazz Gypsy: Also, you played with some jazz greats from the very beginning. How did that happen?

Ndugu: Being in California and being mentored around jazz greats. I was around Harold Land, The Jazz Crusaders, Stix Hooper, Gerald Wilson, growing up and living in the same neighborhood with these guys. And, having role models that I idolized led me the right way. The guys that I was idolizing and following were jazz greats.

Stix Hooper mentored me a lot. The Crusaders lived down the street from me. So I got a chance to see what great people were. I also met a local musician by the name of Eddie Gamus, a saxophone player and he had consistency with going to work everyday playing music. So I knew my focus was on going to be a well-rounded, consummate professional. And, that was just from growing up in LA around all of that music. I moved to New York for a while, but New York wasn't my cup of tea because LA gave me the luxury of courting with and playing with all of these names.

The Jazz Gypsy: So now what advice would you give to young musicians, particularly about how to stay balanced and how to build and sustain a lifelong career in the industry?

Ndugu: The first thing is listen to as much as you possibly can, remain open, remain humble and get a life. There is more to life than music. And, it's life that makes the music.

The Jazz Gypsy: That's great advice. Now, turning to the upcoming Playboy Jazz Festival, you'll be performing with The Cosby All Stars [featuring Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Anat Cohen, and Babatunde Lea] again. How many performances have you had at The Playboy Jazz Festival?

Ndugu: With Cos I'd say about 15 to 18...I stopped counting because this has been going on since the 80's for me. But, Cos and I go back to about 1972 and I've been in different musical situations with him. So, I lost count. [laughter] Cos and I have a strong connection because we were born under the same birth sign, our temperaments are similar so we compliment each other and we respect each other musically and as people.

The Jazz Gypsy: And you must also have a good sense of humor because number one, you're always smiling and also Cos is very funny.

Ndugu: Well, you know what? I'm happy because I'm one of the few people in life that has been afforded the luxury of building a life and doing a career doing something I love. So that's the beautiful thing. So when I hit the stage I'm happy if they're 5 people or 105,000 people. I'm happy because people come to see me. They enjoy it and I enjoy it. I don't expect them to enjoy it if I don't enjoy it. That's like feeding someone a bad meal and assuming that they're going to like it and you don't [like it].

The Jazz Gypsy: I love that analogy. [both laughing] And, I've gotten some bad meals. [more laughter]

Ndugu: You know what I mean? "Well how does it taste? I don't like it but you might like it?" Uh uh.

The Jazz Gypsy: [extended laughter] I love that. Also, just two more questions. You have an upcoming event this Sunday, where you will be working with Patrice Rushen. That's a long time relationship, tell me more about that.

Ndugu: Oh! That goes back to high school. I'm a couple years ahead of Patrice. Patrice and I were in the band at Locke High School. But Patrice and I used to just practice together. Just the two of us. We didn't have a bass player that played with us. We would just get together and practice together because we had the same fervor and spirit of wanting to accomplish and become music greats. So our association goes back to then. I remember her first records while I was on tour and coming back into town and doing records and all of that. So we go [way] back. Patrice is like my little sister.

The Jazz Gypsy: Is there anything else you like tell me about, any thing you're working on, or any special projects?

Ndugu: I have my two CD's out now. Well, I have my CD and then I have another CD with me co-leading this band called "high TIME" that is four college professors that got together one weekend and made some music. The name of that CD is called Morning Walk.

And then my CD, "Ndugu Chancler, Old Friends Live", I'm playing vibes and percussion exclusively. So, that's the other side of me that a lot of other people really never get to experience. I play vibes and the other percussion but I have been noted so much as a drummer that they forget that there are so many other hats that I wear that look equally as good as the drum hat that they always tend to want to forget about that.

I've had a lot of success as a songwriter as a producer and as a percussionist. And, at this juncture in my life, I'm trying to explore all of those things more.

The Jazz Gypsy: I did have a chance to listen to both those CD's and I thoroughly enjoyed both, but I was surprised when I heard you playing the vibes.

Ndugu: Well, I started doing that in high school and made a few records early on in the late 70's and 80's doing it. But again, when people know you for doing a certain thing they want you to do that exclusively. So, I'm slowly trying to slide all the sides of me into the mainstream so people know that. I'm kind of like Marcus Miller where I do this and I do that AND I do this.

The Jazz Gypsy: Thank you so much for your time, I'm looking forward to seeing you at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year.

Ndugu: I'm looking forward to it too. I'm starting to get a little excited. It was great talking to you.

See Ndugu and many others this weekend, as well as June 11 & 12th.


Sunday, June 5, 4:00-8:00 PM
Admission: FREE!

-1+One Featuring Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler with Special Guest
-Johnny Polanco & The Amistad Orchestra
-Nikhil Korula Band
-The Calabasas High School Jazz Band

The 33rd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival

Saturday, June 11
-The LAUSD All City High School Big Band
-Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet
-Cos of Good Music with Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen, Alphonso Johnson, Babatunde Lea
-A Night in Treme - The Musical Majesty of New Orleans
-SFJAZZ Collective Celebrating the Music of Stevie Wonder
-Dianne Reeves
-Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra
-The Roots with special guest Terence Blanchard

Sunday, June 12
-Pullum High School Big Band
-Carlos Varela
-Geri Allen and her Timeline Band
-Lee Konitz New Quartet
-John Scofield and Robben Ford
-Bill Cunliffe and the Resonance Big Band
-Naturally 7
-Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown
-Buddy Guy
-Harmony 3 with Ronnie Laws, Walter Beasley, Stanley Jordan

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:11 AM

May 20, 2011

22nd Annual KSBR Birthday Bash

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

22nd Annual KSBR Birthday Bash

Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 5:00 pm

Oso Viejo Park / Norman P. Murray Community Center
24932 Veterans Way
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

More info: http://www.ksbr.org/bash.html


With more than 25 headliners playing in a giant jazz jam, each Bash is a once-in-a-lifetime concert for both the artists and the audience. The music will never happen in exactly the same way again. The listeners know that the event is something special – it has sold out ever year since 1997! Horn man Tony Guerrero will again emcee this musical fest, which will bring together a lineup of vocalists and instrumentalists, all to benefit KSBR radio.

Who’s Playing: More than 25 of your favorite Jazz! Musicians in a giant Jazz! Jam. We never know for sure who will be there (and we always have surprises).

The roster from our previous shows is a virtual “who’s who” of contemporary jazz. While we obviously can't list all of the dozens of past performers, just a few of those who have donated their time include Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Tom Scott, Boney James, Patti Austin, Richard Elliott, Bob James, Peter White, Craig Chaquico, Gerald Albright, Warren Hill, Chris Botti, Diane Schur, Eric Marienthal, Brian Bromberg, Jeff Kashiwa, Ronnie Laws, Gabriela Anders, Grant Geissman, Tim Weisberg, Rob Mullins, Max Bennett, Joe McBride, Marilyn Scott, Thom Rotella, Pamela Williams, Chris Standring, Slim Man, Melvin Davis, and Freddie Ravel. KSBR's tradition is to announce one performing artist each day, starting on May 1st!

When: Sunday, May 29th. Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Gates open at 3:00pm. The concert is scheduled to start at 5:00 pm. Food and beverages available for sale.

Where: The Village Green of Oso Viejo Community Park in Mission Viejo

Who’s Attending: The crowd is always the “cream of the crop” of our listening audience. Approaching 2,000 total, it is a combination of VIP Platinum and VIP Gold ticket holders, General Admission ticket holders, Sponsors and guests from the music and radio industry.

Ticket Prices:

Reserved Platinum VIP: $175 per person. Reserved seats directly in front of the stage. Pre-concert dinner and beverages (including beer and wine) in the new VIP dining area immediately adjacent to the main stage, giving you a backstage dining experience. Platinum VIP parking at the Norman P. Murray Community Center (directly adjacent to the Bash grounds). A 2011 Bash collectible and a complimentary Soft Drink/Dessert Bar will also be provided in the VIP section. Click Here to purchase VIP Passes.

Assigned Gold VIP Table Seating: $100 per person. Seating at assigned tables in the Gold Circle and parking in the Gold VIP lot. Gold VIPs will receive a 2011 Bash collectible. You may bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages, or purchase food, soft drinks, wine, and beer at the Bash. A complimentary Soft Drink/Dessert Bar will also be provided in the VIP section. Click Here to purchase VIP Passes.

Premium Gold VIP Table Seating (NEW LEVEL): $140 per person. By popular demand, we have added a new level for those Gold VIPs who would like to enhance their Bash experience. In addition to the Gold benefits listed above, Premium VIPs will also receive a pre-concert dinner in the new VIP dining area immediately adjacent to the main stage, giving you a backstage experience. Click Here to purchase VIP Passes.

General Admission: $50 at the gate. $45 in advance (Kids 12 and under are free). Lawn Seating. CLICK HERE to purchase General Admission tickets online. General Admission tickets are also available at the Saddleback College Box Office (949-582-4656, Tu-Sat noon-4pm) and the Norman P. Murray Community Center.

For more info: http://www.ksbr.org/bash.html

Posted by JazzGypsy at 11:15 PM

April 7, 2011

4-hour Newport Harbor Jazz Cruise w/Gail Jhonson

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Harbor Cruise w/Gail Jhonson
April 30, 2011
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Newport Harbor, CA

For several years, I was able to enjoy the week-long smooth jazz cruises that were absolutely phenomenal. However, due to the economy and other factors, I am not able to travel for extended periods like I used to. But, as the saying goes, "When one door closes, another one opens!" And, that is the case with a new venture between Omega Entertainment and Jazzie Girl Productions. The two have joined their collective forces to offer a 4-hour smooth jazz cruise in Newport Harbor, located in Newport Beach, CA.

What a great idea! You can enjoy exceptional smooth jazz aboard a luxurious yacht on the beautiful Newport Harbor while you dine on a lavish buffet.

Gail Jhonson is a Philadelphia-bred keyboardist, vocalist & music director for Smooth Jazz superstar guitarist Norman Brown for many years. She has performed with artists like Bobby Womack, Pink, Vanessa Williams, Bobby Lyle/featuring Mindi Abair, Dave Koz, Jermaine Jackson and Sheila E.

Tickets are only $110/per person which includes the cruise, concert & full buffet.
Space is limited, and tickets must be purchased by April 20, 2011.

To purchase tickets or for more info call:(562) 309-0230.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 11:01 PM

February 12, 2011

Playboy Jazz Festival Announces 2011 line-up

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

June 11 & 12, 2011, 3:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Playboy Jazz Festival
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA

Dianne Reeves perf shot 2.jpg

Dianne Reeves, Fourplay, Harmony 3 lead the line-up for the 33rd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival

Well, it's that most wonderful time of the year again. Yesterday, TV, radio and print journalists and photographers converged under a large tent at the world-famous Playboy Mansion with eager anticipation to hear the line-up for the upcoming 33rd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival (PJF) scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 11th & 12th at the Hollywood Bowl.

Darlene Chan, president of Festival West Inc, the producer for the Playboy Jazz Festival for the 33rd consecutive year, was joined by long-time PJF MC, actor, comedienne, and musician Bill Cosby who together announced the line-up between nearly 2 hours of comedic exchanges.

Several of the performers were on hand, as noted in the photograph below.


(Artist line-up, subject to change)

Saturday, June 11, 2011, 3:00 P.M.-10:30 P.M.
(Artist line-up, subject to change)









-THE LAUSD ALL CITY HIGH SCHOOL BIG BAND under the direction of Tony White and JB Dyas

Sunday, June 12, 2011, 3:00 P.M.-10:30 P.M.
(Artist line-up, subject to change)










under the direction of Fernando Pullum
BILL COSBY, Master of Ceremonies
Tickets: Single day tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting February 10th.
Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling
(213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website.

Tickets may also be purchased at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office beginning May 7th.
Ticket Policy: All patrons, including children, must have a ticket for admittance inside the

Park & Ride: For further information on Park & Ride and shuttle lots, please call
(323) 850-2000.

On site Parking is extremely limited. For information, call (323) 850-2000.

Special Message to All Playboy Jazz Patrons: For safety and fire regulations, the aisles and walkways of the Hollywood bowl must be kept clear at all times. Therefore, all large containers or coolers measuring more than 15” wide, 15” high and 22” long and kegs, pony kegs and party balls of beer will not be permitted past the ticket gate.

Non-Smoking Policy: The Hollywood Bowl has a no smoking policy inside the theater.
Smoking will be permitted only outside the theater seating area on the bowl grounds.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 12:17 AM

August 22, 2010

BB Jazz Festival - It's Not Just About the Music

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

BB Jazz Festival
September 11, 2010
Central Park Huntington Beach, CA
www.bbjazz.com - Get your tickets today!

Nowadays, almost anybody can put together a music festival. However, through my travels I've learned that not all festivals are created equal...even when they have the same musicians. Why are some festivals terrible despite their great line-up? The answer is simple. A festival reflects the heart and soul of it's producers.


A case in point is one of my favorites, the BB Jazz Festival in Huntington Beach. The producers, Corky and Betty Benish, actually care about their audience, the musicians and their all volunteer staff. They make attending their festival simple. Bring your own picnic if you chose, or get a gourmet meal cooked on site with free flowing beverages. Park right at the venue for FREE, come right in, relax and enjoy new artists, established artists and superb talent that you typically won't see everywhere else.

The 2010 line-up includes: Walter Beasley, Maysa, Raul Midon, Bob Baldwin featuring Art Sherrod, Andre DeLano, Manhdo, Eric Essix and BK Jackson. These are superb artists that we rarely get to see, especially on the West Coast. View their bios at www.bbjazz.com.

In short, BB Jazz is not your "cookie-cutter" festival. You get a high-caliber, enjoyable experience from beginning to end. No hassles, or burdensome restrictions that are typical of other events and venues.

Huntington Beach Park 2.jpgHuntington Beach Park-lake.jpg

BB Jazz Festival offers:
- miles of grassy, green rolling hills,
- mature shade trees,
- ocean breezes (they're only 2 miles from Pacific Coast Highway),
- great sight lines, and
- a stellar line up.

And, if you don't have time to pack a picnic, and don't opt to go VIP, the festival has great food and merchandise vendors within steps of the main stage.

There's also some great new news!!! This year there will be a second stage in the Vendors Village, giving you three reasons to stroll over there.....great food, great vendors and more great music!

crowd BB Jazz.jpg

If you're wondering about the crowd, yes, they are sophisticated but they definitely know how to "shake what they momma gave them" when DJ Jonathan Phillips spins the best of R&B & oldies between performances. In short, BB Jazz is a gem of a festival and on my top 10 list.

What: 5th Annual BB Jazz Festival

When: Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time: GATES OPEN at 10:00AM **Artists performances from 10:30AM-9:00PM

Where: Huntington Beach Central Park 7111 Talbert Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA 92648.

How: Purchase tickets online at bbjazz.com and BOX OFFICE at the park entrance opens at 8:30AM for ticket sales and Will Call pickup

Need a hotel?: The Hotel Huntington Beach has special $85 rates for this event!

Posted by JazzGypsy at 1:05 AM

June 7, 2010


Posted by The Jazz Gypsy

Thursday, June 10, 2010, 7:30 pm
The Nate Holden Peforming Arts Center
4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016

Free Admission

Celebrating L.A.’s Rich Jazz History…The Playboy Jazz Festival’s (PBJF) annual ‘Jazz on
Film’night, hosted by noted jazz archivist Mark Cantor, will celebrate the legacy of jazz with a move to a new location in Mid-City Los Angeles this year. This FREE event is presented by PBJF, in cooperation with the Ebony Repertory Theatre at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Cantor will share a series of rarely seen performances celebrating some of the most important as well as the sometimes forgotten, names in Jazz. ‘Jazz on Film’ will feature archival footage from jazz luminaries such as Thelonious Monk, Dexter Gordon, and Miles Davis, who all performed at many of L.A.’s top jazz clubs, including The Parisian Room, The It Club, and the Hillcrest Club. There will also be film clips of performances by such notables as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Louis Armstrong, Mel Tormè, Dinah Washington and more.

Playboy will also present the award-winning jazz documentary CHOPS, immediately following Cantor’s show. The documentary follows the quest of a high school band from the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Florida to prove they’re as hard swinging as any band in the country--a quest that puts them onstage in front of a packed house at NYC’s Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic director, Wynton Marsalis.

Tip: Lot parking is conveniently located one block east of the theatre on Washington and Vineyard Avenue

Posted by JazzGypsy at 7:50 PM

May 24, 2010

Put another candle on the KSBR Birthday Bash Cake!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Sunday, May 30, 2010
Gates Open 3:00 pm
Concert Begins – 5:00 pm

Village Green At Oso Viejo Park
24932 Veterans Way
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

If you have to grow older, this is the way to celebrate!

Jazz and music aficionados from near and far will flock to the Village Green at Oso Viejo Park on May 30th for the annual KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival.

Saddleback College radio station KSBR (88.5 FM) is partnering with the City of Mission Viejo to host its 21st Birthday Bash celebration at 24932 Veterans Way. The festival, a signature fundraising event for KSBR-FM, will feature more than 40 jazz artists including David Benoit, Hiroshima, Greg Adams, and Evelyn Champagne King.

The annual bash is a 4-hour concert featuring talented contemporary jazz artists in a freewheeling jam session. This year's lineup includes big stars that will be announced on stage along with famous favorites such as Brian Bromberg, Chieli Minucci, Dan Siegel, Richard Smith, Freddie Fox, Max Bennett, Blake Aaron, Freddie Washington, Steve Reid, and Dean Grech.

Each Bash is a once-in-a-lifetime concert for both the artists and the audience. The music will never happen in exactly the same way again. The roster from previous shows is a virtual "who's who" of contemporary jazz. Check out the website for the list of past performers. Get your tickets early as this has sold out in the past.

Doors open at 3 p.m., with a special pre-Bash concert by the Saddleback Big Band kicking off a half-hour later. The Bash starts at 5 p.m.

Advance sale ticket prices begin at $45. In recognition of the recent dedication of the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, veterans and active military personnel may purchase tickets at a $10 discount through the Saddleback College Veterans Office 949- 582-4252. Tickets are available to the public at www.KSBR.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:47 AM

May 9, 2010

Interview with Simone (Nina Simone's daughter)

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Rarely, does lightening strike twice in the same place except in this case. Simone, Nina Simone's daughter, has the same thunderbolt presence and talent as her legendary mother, Dr. Nina Simone. This interview exposes a bit of that.

Anyone within a 200-mile radius of LA or San Diego should plan to see Simone as she makes a rare Southern California appearance. The power and presence she brings to the stage is explosive!

Simone's Facebook page: http://bit.ly/doZcVu


Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 8:00 pm
Catalina Bar & Grill
6725 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Thursday, May 13, 2010, 7:30 pm
1337 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Interview with Simone, Nina Simone’s daughter, Tuesday, May 4, 2010.

The Jazz Gypsy: You were born Lisa Celeste Stroud, on September 12, 1962, right?

Simone: Yes. That's correct.

The Jazz Gypsy: Where did you spend the majority of your childhood?

Simone: Ah, childhood would be from birth to 18 years old. Well, I'd say the first eight years of my life, were the most stable and that was in Mt. Vernon, NY. After that, it kind of just popped around like popcorn. Believe it or not, the stability, now that I reflect, had to do with the fact that my parents were together. And, once my parents separated, that's when we became gypsies and nomads, my mother used to call us.

The Jazz Gypsy: Tell me about your time in Troy, North Carolina.

Do you mean Tyron? My mother was born in Tyron, North Carolina. The only dealings I've had with Tryon, North Carolina of late has been in connection with the Nina Simone project. That is the project that has been responsible for my mother's statue. The statue is of my mother's head and shoulders on my body and it was dedicated on February 21st of this year which would have been my mothers' 77th birthday. There was a huge dedication with a letter from former President Clinton, a Congressional record was read, the Mayor came out and many people came out. They had doves flying all around and we officially opened up what is now known as the Nina Simone Plaza. So there's a statue there where I can go and sit on mommy's lap and I can talk to her and she doesn't interrupt me and I can spend some time with my mom. And, the town where she was born has finally, officially, heralded "their girl", if you will, and she's come home.

The Jazz Gypsy: Excellent. And, I also read that there are ashes of your mom in the chest of the statue.

Simone: Yes, my mom was cremated and I have those ashes and I donated a portion of them. They asked me if I would [donate some of the ashes], and I didn't know what their plans were. But, it didn't matter to me because what they were doing was so wonderful. I found out later on, I have pictures of the heart being constructed and the ashes being placed in the bronze heart which was put inside of the statue. So, yes, there are various pieces of mom inside the statue.

The Jazz Gypsy: That is so special. And, I also saw the picture on your Facebook page (http://bit.ly/doZcVu) where there was a ray of light shining on you at the statue.

Simone: Isn't that something?

The Jazz Gypsy: That was awesome.

Simone: I didn't even know.....we were just taking a picture and the sculptor, Zenos, he calls himself my grandfather now...[laughter]...it was just amazing that that statue was put together by him. His heart, soul and expertise went into it and my daughter was actually present when I modeled. And, they took the actual form of my body from which they poured the bronze, or however they do it, and she took the video, and she's actually narrating. She was actually eight at the time. So I was really happy that she has been such an integral part of such a historical process. So that when I die, she doesn't have to pick from other people's gossip or whatever. She can know from her own experience.

The Jazz Gypsy: Right. And, that reminds me of a picture I saw of you, in I believe Jet, of your birth with your mom and I believe your dad and then there was a picture of you and your daughter.

Simone: Yes, the legacy continues in many forms.

The Jazz Gypsy: And so, did you spend time in North Carolina as a child?

Simone: I did. Well, other than going to visit my grandma, who lived in a town called Forest City, I went to third grade in Rutherfordton. There are three towns in that part of North Carolina that are connected, Rutherfordton, then there's Spindale and then there's Forest City. And, I went to third grade, when I was eight years old, in Rutherford Elementary and then when I was ten years old I went to fifth grade, elementary school, in Spindale. And, then I also spent a lot of time with my grandma in Forest City.

The Jazz Gypsy: I read that that's where you learned to cook fried chicken, learned the 23rd psalm there, and was singing in the choir.

Simone: Yes, yes, that was with my grandma. I spent a lot of time with her. She taught me the 23rd psalm when I was ten. And I remember us being on our knees as she taught it to me and I have in turn taught it to me kids.

The Jazz Gypsy: Both your grandparents are Reverends, right. And, your son, is he a Reverend as well?

Simone: Yes, my eldest. That's his hope is to be an Evangelist. He's still searching for who he is, but his heart, is definitely one where he wants to spread the word of God. So I wish him all the best. It's something, being the granddaughter of a minister and now being the mother of a minister. But, my views on religion are not as conventional as my grandparents and as a mother of a minister, I make sure to make those views very clear to him that God loves us all. So don't be saying that we're the only ones going to heaven. [laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: I'm right there with you. [laughter] So, in terms of your son finding his career. I want to talk to you about you finding your career. So, I want to walk down memory lane for a bit because your background is vary varied in terms of your aspiration to become a lawyer, then your working as an Engineering Assistant in the US Air Force, then as a background singer for European artists, touring with a Latin superstar, your Broadway career [Aida, RENT, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar] then your singing in Liquid Soul.

Simone: [laughter] Boy, I sure have taken a circuitous route, haven't I? [laughter] Yes, let’s go down that path.


The Jazz Gypsy: So when did you start singing around the house and then when did you start singing as Simone?

Simone: Well, I've always sung around the house, even like my daughter. She sings and dances. It's just a part of who she is. It was just a part of who I was. And there was no thought involved in it. Also I realize, since my mom passed away, I've been dissecting my life in one form or fashion and that by osmosis, when your mom, when that's what she does for a living, the house is full of music, and so sometimes just by breathing the same air, you wind up just doing a lot of those things.

When I was spending a lot of time with my god sisters, which are Malcolm X's daughters, I call myself the seventh sister, because he had six daughters, they used to always ask me to sing one of mom's songs, "Turning Point", which I might end up having to record. Have you heard it, "The Turning Point"?

The Jazz Gypsy: No, I haven't.

Simone: You know mommies background and her first love is classical music.
And, so the music for this song is classical, with cello and a lot of strings and it's like a lullaby. [Simone begins to sing]

See the little brown girl She's as old as me She looks just like chocolate Oh mummy can't you see

[Simone stops singing and resumes conversation]

And it's basically a little white girl talking to her mother about this little brown girl that goes to school with her who she really likes. And, she's telling her mom about all these different situations when they swing on the swings, and how this little boy tries to mess with this little brown girl and the white girl punched him in the chin... and the whole nine.

And when she gets done she says [Simone begins to sing again]

Mom, can she come over To play dolls with me? We could have such fun mum

[Simone stops singing and resumes conversation]

Then there's a pause, and she's like "Well why not?" And, in the end she goes, "Oh, I see".

And that's when racism and that's when separation is implanted into a child's mind. It's called "Turning Point". That's the song they always asked me to sing and we were all kids. I don't think that they realized the impact the song was. They just liked it, you know.

Jazz Gypsy: For the reading audience, I have listed the full lyrics to "The Turning Point":

See the little brown girl
She's as old as me
She looks just like chocolate
Oh mummy can't you see

We are both in first grade
She sits next to me
I took care of her mum
When she skinned her knee

She sang a song so pretty
On the Jungle Gym
When Jimmy tried to hurt her
I punched him in the chin

Mom, can she come over
To play dolls with me?
We could have such fun mum

Oh mum what'd you say

Why not? oh why not?
Oh. . . I. . . see. . .

Simone: So, when I was in high school I was going to church a lot, and I became part of a gospel group called The Gospel Cameras. And, without any real musical training, I was the one who was responsible for giving everyone their parts. I've always been able to hear harmonies, and to hear voices in my head. I did that for a while and then I delved a little bit in dinner theater. Then I was asked by this group of men, actually a band, that's when Angela Bowfil was out there, and they asked me to be a singer. My auntie was raising me at the time and I was living in Hudson, NY. And, my aunt was like, "Oh, no, you're not going to live that life". So, I didn't think anymore about it. And, when my college plans to go to the University fell through, I think as an act of desperation, I just reached out to the next best thing and the Air Force came up. I still have not been able to remember being given options. But obviously, I was really desperate because I took it.

When I went in, of course I didn't know at the time, engineering assistant wasn't called an engineering assistant and they were originally going to put me in administration. And I was like I don't want to be inside all day long. So the recruiter said "How about being a site developer". And, I was like, "Well, what's that?" And, he gave me a brief description and I said "Well, what ever". [laughter] So, I went into the military and ended up doing a job that consisted of all the things I hated in school, math and I was like "Oh, man". Then later on, the job title was changed from Site Developer to Engineering Assistant.

So while I was in the military, I was reunited with music, via a glass of wine. A glass of wine has played a pivotal role in my life two times. the first time was when I went to that Bistro, which I’m sure you already know you already know about in Frankfurt Germany. You know that story, right?

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes.


Simone: So the man playing the piano in the Bistro was Black. And, the way he tapped his foot up and down, he didn't just use the top of his foot or the bottom of his foot, he did his whole leg and it reminded me of church in the South. And, for some reason, I was inspired to get up and sing with him and I don't even remember what song I sang.

All is know is that my girlfriend, I found out later, she is a sister, an African American, that owned a hair salon in Frankfurt Germany, I found out later, that she was so impressed, she was raving to everybody in the salon about me and then a lady named Joan Crawford called me up. I was like, "Who are you and how did you get my number and why are you calling me?" She said, "Well, I need a background singer." And, when I realized what she needed me to do, I said, "Well, I can shake my behind and I can harmonize and I can make a little extra money. So, I said why not." And, then after a while, I wanted to do my own gigs and I took one and the rest is history.

It was during that time, right before the Gulf War, I was about 27/28 and I was really not "feeling" the military and I couldn't imagine doing it for twenty years. I wasn't going to make rank very fast because I was in a job that I hated. So in order to make rank in the Air Force you have to test. And I wasn't going to do well on the test because I had no interest in what I was doing. So, I was waiting, just trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up. And, music came back into my life. I remember a fire being lit in my belly and me saying, "Wow, maybe this is what I ought to consider". And, so I did. Much to my parents horror. [laughter]

I picked the name L'Simone. Of course, in Europe, that wasn't such a big thing because when you add an apostrophe to your name it's no big thing. And when I did Jesus Christ Superstar, there were so many Lisa's in the cast that the Director looked at me and said, "You know what, we've decided to call you Simone, is that okay with you?" And, I said, "Yeah". And, I've been using the name ever since. So it was while I was in Germany, when I was 28, that I decided to take up singing as a profession and I haven't looked back since.

The Jazz Gypsy: So, you have two solo albums?

Simone: No, one. The first one is a Town Hall. The Town Hall Cd you're talking about is just about five songs that I put together to sell at the concert. My debut CD, in every since of the word is "Simone on Simone".

The Jazz Gypsy: So, Simone Superstar was the compilation of the five songs?

Simone: No. Simone Superstar was just me proclaiming and affirming to the universe, which is what I talk about all the time. "Simone on Simone" really should be Simone Superstar, [laughter]. That's the CD I always thought I would put out first. I just never got to it. [more laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: So, Simone on Simone, I absolutely love it. Do you have a favorite on there?

Simone: They are all my favorites. That's why it's such a good CD. They are all my favorites. Lets, see. "Don't You Pay Them No Mind" has been a song out of all of them that has been a favorite Nina Simone song of mine since I was a little girl. "How Long Must I Wander", became a favorite of mine when I was nine. I used to sing around the house "I Wish I Knew What It Was Like to Be Free" when I was four or five years old. So each song has it's own history, it has it's own story, it has it's own place in my journey. And, of course, "Music for Lovers", my God, that was the first time I ever shared the stage with my mom. So, they're all favorites.

The Jazz Gypsy: Okay. Tell me about "Child In Me".

Simone: What do you want to know?

The Jazz Gypsy: That one has, it seems like it has a lot of emotion.

Simone: I wrote that in a hotel room. A lot of time when I'm performing... have you ever seen me perform?

The Jazz Gypsy: No, I haven't, [laughter], but my friends have.

Simone: Okay.

The Jazz Gypsy: They saw you in Atlanta, last year.

Simone: Oh, they saw me when I was with Sing The Truth. Yeah, that was part of a review. But they haven't seen my show? Okay, then this [referring to her upcoming show at Catalina Bar & Grill in LA on May 11, 2010] will be a real treat because I tell stories. I haven't even been singing "Child In Me" lately. Actually, I don't know why. But, when I do, I talk to the audience about it's history. I wrote that song when I was in Madrid, Spain. I actually have the notebook that I wrote it in. It was in, if I'm not mistaken, 1994, and, I decided to take every tear that I never cried in my childhood and place it on the paper.

The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, wow.

Simone: And, when I wrote it, and the tears would start to come, I refused to cry. I wanted to write a song to my mother that was honest but not blaming her. But letting her know how I was feeling and that I loved her. It is my love song to her. It is very autobiographical and every line in it is autobiographical.

When I look back, it's very hard being a woman of color now, much less back in the time when my mother was doing her thing. Being a revolutionary, a wife, a mother, a musical prodigy, a genius, and so forth, and so on, you know, “Mommy, you done good". You can't keep all those plates spinning at the same time, very well.

So, this was my love some to her and the first time she heard it, she just burst into tears because she always carried so many regrets in her heart with regards to me. So I wanted her to know, "It was okay and that I love you and there's noting to forgive, I love you". It became her favorite song. I'm happy to say that when she used to travel with the music that she loved, Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Miriam Makeba and of course Nina, I was amongst that group. She would play my music as well.

The Jazz Gypsy: Oh wow, that's excellent. Does your daughter travel with you?

Simone: As often as she can when she's not in school. She shared the stage with me. I don't know if you got a chance to see it but when she was nine, which was a couple of years ago, she graced the Lincoln Center stage with me and headed up a 19-piece big band. She sings "Love Me Or Leave Me" with me and she's a Diva in Training. I teach her about the art of performing straight from the stage. Unlike my mother who did not want me to experience the pitfalls, and all of the bear traps that she did....I thought who better than me is there to teach my daughter. So, she's right at my hip and I tell you what, the third generation is going to be a hum dinger! [hearty laughter] She's got it all the way through her.

The Jazz Gypsy: So, it just keeps getting better.

Simone: It just keeps getting better, and you know what, I dare say that she's going to eclipse both my mother and myself. Because my mother had a very, very difficult childhood and she excelled in spite of that...she carried around many things that she never had a chance to resolve. I also had a difficult childhood. My daughter will have had the best of childhoods of anyone that I know and so she's not going to have the demons and things to overcome like my mom and I have had to do. Hence, her ability to be able to fly and to not look back and to experience the joy that awaits...when you're raised properly, and you know that you're worthy, stand in your own truth, and you're confident of who you are and you know that you have people that love you walking on either side of you, you can't go wrong. And, that's exactly how her life is right now.

BodyPaintresized.jpgThe Jazz Gypsy: That's excellent. There are a couple of other performances I'd like for you to talk about; the first show you did with your mom in 1999, what was that like for you? You nailed that.

Simone: [laughter] Oh, God, I had to keep from crying my eyes out in front of 7,000 people. I was so full. My daughter was six weeks old and she flew with me from Chicago, which is where I had her, to Ireland. The first flight of her life ever was international from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland. And, my mom just wanted me to join her, to join her on the tour. She didn't ask me if I wanted to perform with her, until I was there. And she had actually had been very difficult the night before the performance, to be honest with you. The night before the performance... because she would get very nervous and her way of expressing that anxiety was by becoming angry and bossy and she could just really hurt your feelings. And, her way of apologizing the day of the show was to ask me if I wanted to go down center stage.

The Jazz Gypsy: Oh my goodness.

Simone: And, the reason why she had asked me that was because she had come to see me, this was July 24, 1999, my daughter was born on May 25th, my mom came to Chicago May 28th to visit me after I had given birth to Rayanna. During that visit, we went to the studio that I worked out of and I had my own Nina Simone request line. And, she turned around and said to the people, "You better not be recording me". [laughter] And, she proceeded to play everything I asked her to play and she said "I'll play and you sing". So, one of the songs I asked her to play was "Music for Lovers". I sang it and she loved it so much she asked me to sing it again. And when I got to Ireland, she said, "Do you want to sing it down on center stage" and I said, "Yeah". So, that's what we did and we never rehearsed it. In the limousine ride there's a picture of my mom and me and the baby, that's my daughter.

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes, yes. I've seen that picture.

Simone: In the car, that’s the limousine ride, she asked me what key I wanted to sing in and I sang four words and my mom said "Okay, I got it". My mother had perfect pitch.

She called me on stage and we sang two songs together. We sang "Conversations" and we sang "Music For Lovers". And, when I went down center stage during rehearsal, I actually burst into tears. During the actual performance it was just beautiful. When I turned around at the end, the applause was deafening. Have you ever seen my mom perform?

The Jazz Gypsy: No, just on You Tube. [laughter]


Simone: My mother never lost her...when she performed, you had to be quiet. There was a certain reverence and respect that was an integral part of her classical training. So when I finished singing, I turned around and raised my hands in the air and I ran over to her and I hugged her really hard. And you know she always had that stern face and she just started grinning, in spite of herself. [laughter] And, it was at the end, that she said, "That's my baby" and that's what you hear at the end.

The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, that is an amazing story. Tell me about 2003 when you performed at her memorial.

Simone: Well, there was her funeral in France, April 21, 2003, where I sang "Precious Lord" in the church.

The Jazz Gypsy: That's one of my favorite songs. My grandfather used to sing that.

Simone: Oh, yes. That's one of those hymns, spirituals. Nobody sings them anymore but I do. And then there was the memorial that I put together at Abysinnia Baptist Church, on, wow, was that the day, July 24, oh my goodness, I dare say it might have been the same day, July 24, 2003. At Abysinnia Baptist Church where I eulogized her. So which memorial are you speaking of?

The Jazz Gypsy: I didn't know there were two.

Simone: So, which memorial were you speaking of?

The Jazz Gypsy: Abyssinia.

Simone: I eulogized her and when I got up on stage I actually sang "Music for Lovers". And, I remember Revered Calvin Butts, when I was putting everything together I found out that my mother briefly had become a member of that church, at some point in her life, which I didn't know. And the people told me that Rev. Butts usually eulogizes and I said "He won't be doing that in this case, that's my mom and I will be doing the eulogizing". It's interesting because I didn't know what I was going to say and I was kind of torn. I still have a lot of my journal entries. I've kept journals for many years and I have writings from that time. And, my husband was like, "Do you want to write anything down"? And, I'm a Virgo, I'm pretty anal and I was like "No, no, no".

Then, three days before the memorial, it hit me. While the world loved my mother and knew her as Nina Simone, and/or Eunice Waymon, sister/brother/cousin/friend/artist, I'm the only person on earth that calls her mommy. And, it was from that point of view that I was able to put together what I was going to say. I had no notes whatsoever, but that was my starting point, and that's from where I pulled.

The Jazz Gypsy: Then in 2006, you did a Tribute to your mom at Town Hall in NY.

Simone: That's the CD I thought you were referring to when you said Simone Superstar. Again, that's where I put a little CD together with five songs to actually have at that event and it just said in loving memory of my mother. I found out some history about that show. Do you know any history before I go into it?

The Jazz Gypsy: No, I don't.

Simone: Okay, I when I was putting that show together, I was asked by Larry Zucker who brings the talent to Town Hall, he met me for lunch one day, and he told me that he was actually at my moms performance in 1959, and that he had had a light bulb went off in his head about me recreating that concert with my mothers' band to which I heartily agreed. While we were putting the show together, I found out some interesting facts about that concert. My mother performed at Town Hall on September 12, 1959. I actually have an oil painting of her at the piano on that day. She hadn't met my father yet. Yet, I was born three years later, September 12, 1962. My mother died April 21, 2003, and I was asked to perform April 21, 2006, three years later. So it’s almost as if a circle had been completed. So, three years after her performance, I was born. And three years after she died I graced the same stage.

The Jazz Gypsy: Oh, my goodness.

Simone: There have been a lot of spiritual things that have taken place in my life since my mom passed which have taught me many lesson on this world and just how much we're missing. I had a seat reserved for her and I performed with her musicians from that time, many of whom are uncles and god fathers who remember the day my mother and father first laid eyes on each other. My brother, who had at the time a security company, did the security and it was a huge family affair. Now this was my half brother, I'm my moms only child. So those are some of the key elements to that concert.

I did "Sinner Man", "Black Is The Color" [of My True Loves Hair], "I Don't want Him, You Can Have Him", which I will be doing there in LA. And, at the end of the concert it really made me feel so good to hear people start yelling from the audience, "Do Mississippi God dam", do "Do What You Gotta Do", do "To Love Somebody", do "22nd Century", and I had an answer for each and every person. But it was very heartwarming to me because my mother was my mother and there will be no other, but to find that people who have loved her, of all ages all races, would find me good enough, for lack of a better way of putting it, to recreate those songs, for them to yell out their requests, that was like yeah I'm doing the right thing.

The Jazz Gypsy: You have such incredible stories I know there's going to be a book coming out soon.

Simone: A lot of people have mentioned that to me and I'm ready. There are a lot of stories. That's what my concert is all about. It's all about this is you life right now. When I wanted to become a singer, I asked God to enable me to inspire love and positively through the example of my own life from the stage and this is when I first realized that singing is what I wanted to do. I just didn't know that I would have to walk though an ocean of fire to do it. But it is what I'm doing and I'm still here and I’m inspiring those very things in the lives that I touch at this point.

The Jazz Gypsy: Ocean of fire. That sounds like a good song title. [laughter]

Simone: That might be the name of the book. [hearty laughter] Definitely.

The Jazz Gypsy: How different is it when you're singing your moms songs yourself and when you're singing with other people like when you did "Four Women" with Liz Wright, Diane Reeves, Patty Ausin and Angelique Kido?

Simone: "Four Women" is not a song I choose to do in my own show. I've also done it with Tracy Chapman, Odetta and Liz Wright. I just finished doing it with Patti Austin, Diane Reeves and Liz Wright.

For me, I think each person embodies the particular character that we're singing and because I have such a theater background it's not just about singing a lyric. It's also about the visual, about being committed, it’s about living the role and I just think it very apropos that there are four different women with four different hues and styles and everything singing these parts. Mommy did it great on her own but we've just expounded upon something that she created.

The Jazz Gypsy: When I looked at the different videos, I do think you were the most theatrical.

Simone: Thank you, thank you. What can I say, I am drama queen. [laughter]


The Jazz Gypsy: What are you currently working on?

Simone: [with a lot of excitement] My new project! We captured lightening in a bottle and I could not be more thrilled. It's taken a while to get the direction It's one's thing to do a project that's full of songs which have already been tried and proven. It's quite another, if you go to my blog, look up Simone Kelly on Facebook. I've blogged from nearly every country I've traveled to in the past two years, Africa, China, Poland, Spain, I talk about saying the truth, I talk about the various embodiment of all of us, encapsulating a different facet of my mothers' personality. But, I also talk about, the fact that this past winter, I layed back in the cut for a few months and just took care of our daughter and made sure she was okay. Waiting for, I didn't know what I was waiting for, but I knew I was waiting. And, on November 19th, the sign came from the heavens. And, I go on to explain that whole process of how nothing we do is wasted. And, my point is that I did a demo three years ago that we never did anything with. But, the person that I did it with was thinking about me and wanted to know what I was doing. He called my management and said, "I think as a producer she would work very well in Miami. Do you think she would mind going to Miami?" And, he didn't know I'm living there now. So, I went to this producers studio, and we’ve already cut three songs and another [unintelligible words] is waiting for me when I get back. And we're doing, the music is, well, do you remember "The Propellerheads" in Shirley Bassey?

The Jazz Gypsy: No.

Simone: [Simone sings] "I do just a little bit of history repeating"

The Jazz Gypsy: Yes, I remember now.

Simone: It's very classical, it's very now, it's what a lot of artists are trying to do but haven't quite been able to pull off just right. And the producer is like, "Your lineage, your background your experience, and your instrument...you can do this". And, I'm telling you, I'm having the time of my life. And everybody who has heard what I have done so far they're just like, this is amazing. And, I'm very encouraged that this is me coming out as me. I've paid tribute to my mom, paid homage to the one who walked before me, now I get a chance to get to myself. And, I think this is a wonderful way to present myself.

The Jazz Gypsy: When is this CD coming out?

Simone: Right now, we are gearing for the Fall. That means I have a whole lot of singing to do over the summer. [laughter] So, let's hope that I'm able to hit that mark but definitely this year, by God's grace.

The Jazz Gypsy: Tell me where to find that information again on Facebook.

Simone: Simone Kelly, there's about five of six pages of Simone Kelly's but you know how I look, so and I'm amongst them, K-E-L-L-Y. Simone Kelly. And, I'm not on Facebook as much as other people because it's all I can do to hit my marks in my everyday life, much less be on computer for two to three hours contacting a thousand people. But, I do try to blog every month and especially when I'm on the road. I've posted pictures from Africa and Spain. I've got pictures of Diane Reeves and Liz Wright and Joy and all of us together and my kid and I. The whole nine yards.

The Jazz Gypsy: Okay, I've saved my last three big questions for now.

Simone: Okay.

The Jazz Gypsy: You mentioned that wine has played a role in some of your major decisions, so I want to know, red or white?

Simone: Red. [laughter] 'Cause red is my favorite color. [laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: And, did you ever learn to make those buttermilk biscuits with mayonnaise?

Simone: [emphatically] Yes! Yes! I forgot, I went to Tryon and I was taught how to make buttermilk biscuits. I remember the ingredients. I just can't remember [the measurements]. You go to the South and they don't do nothing with no measurements. They just do it all just by feel. That's how I was taught. So, yes, I did. [hearty laughter]

The Jazz Gypsy: And, do you really travel with cast iron pans?

Simone: Well, when I was doing theater and I used to travel with trunks, well, yes, because everywhere we went, we had corporate housing and I was able to cook. And, it was like legend amongst the cast and company that Simone has her cast iron pans and she's going to fry some chicken and make some cornbread after the show. Heck, yeah. And, when I go back out on tour, and I'm able to be somewhere, I realize, see in Miami where I live, they have an electrical stove and it eats up my cast iron pans so I'm sorry to say that I have not been able to cook with them. But, my home here in Pennsylvania, I have a gas top range and that's the only thing that's on there.

The Jazz Gypsy: Well, thank you very much. Is there anything you would like to add.

Simone: Yes, there is. When my mother died she died alone. She died not having any idea how much she was loved by the world. So, she had a fear, that if her voice ever gave out on her, that she didn't know what she would do, in order to survive. Since she has passed away, my mother is more famous than she ever has been. It doesn't mean anything to her now because she has already crossed over. So my message to our world is, "Please, let our great ones know how much they are loved while they are here and, that their sacrifices and choices that they've made, and the suffering that they've endured is not in vain".

The Jazz Gypsy: That's a good message.

Simone: Thank you.

The Jazz Gypsy: Well thank you Simone.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 9:24 AM

April 17, 2010

Pat Metheny to perform at LA's iconic Disney Hall

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Monday, May 19th, 8:00 pm
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: http://bit.ly/dB7eSC


The renown jazz fusion guitarist, Pat Metheny, is set to reinvent the jazz experience with his new Orchestration Project.

According to Metheny, this project represents a conceptual direction that merges an idea from the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the technologies of today to create a new, open-ended platform for musical composition, improvisation and performance.

"Orchestrionics" is the term that Metheny uses to describe a method of developing ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled in a variety of ways, using solenoids and pneumatics. With a guitar, pen or keyboard Metheny is able to create a detailed compositional environment or a spontaneously developed improvisation, with the pieces on this particular recording leaning toward the compositional side of the spectrum. On top of these layers of acoustic sound, Metheny adds conventional electric guitar playing as an improvised component.

Metheny already had a trademarked playing style, which blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility - a way of playing and improvising that was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues.

The Orchestration Project will certainly further distinguish Metheny as an innovator ahead of his time.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:27 PM

April 9, 2010

Free Playboy Jazz Festival

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

The kick-off for the 32nd Annual Playboy Jazz Festival scheduled for June 12 and 13th at the Hollywood Bowl will begin with a free concert featuring Grammy winning pianist Bill Cunliffe and his Septet and Johnny Crawford and His Orchestra. The event will be held on Sunday, May 2nd from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza, located at 450 North Rexford Drive, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Burton Way

Cunliffe, who will open the show, continues to attract nationwide attention for his lyrical style and groundbreaking compositions, has toured and played with many jazz greats, including Frank Sinatra, The Buddy Rich Big Band, Joe Henderson, Joshua Redman, James Moody, and many others. Together, Cunliffe and his Septet will echo the sounds of big band with a celebration of saxophonist Oliver Nelson: The Blues and the Abstract Truth.

Johnny Crawford and His Orchestra will recall the musical elegance of another time, with their authentic arrangements of popular songs and music from the ‘20’s and ‘30’s.

This afternoon promises to be a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center’s attractive outdoor performing arts venue.

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Glass containers, alcoholic beverages and audio/video recorders are not permitted. Two free hours of parking are available at the Civic Center parking structure, adjacent to the Beverly Hills Public Library.

For more information regarding the community concert series or the Playboy Jazz Festival, call the hotline at 310-450-1173 or visit www.playboyjazz.com .

Posted by JazzGypsy at 8:39 AM

March 8, 2010

Playboy Jazz Festival Annouces Awesome Line-up!

written by The Jazz Gypsy

The Playboy Jazz Festival
(presented in cooperation with the L.A. Philharmonic Assoc.)

PBJF LOGO COLOR 2010 copy.jpg

Saturday, June 12, 2010, 2:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday, June 13, 2010, 2:00 pm - 10:30 pm

Hollywood Bowl
2301 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90068-2742

Tickets Available Now at Ticketmaster.com


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the world renowned Playboy Clubs where many jazz greats got their start. In keeping with that legacy, the 32nd annual Playboy Jazz Festival will present a world class lineup of talent featuring the highly anticipated debuts of emerging young artists, celebrated jazz icons and returning Festival favorites.

Among the headliners for the two day event are The Chick Corea Freedom Band, George Benson, The Manhattan Transfer, Stax for Sax (Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber & Kirk Whalum), Marcus Miller, Les Mc Cann, Esperanza Spaulding, and one of my favorite world musicians', Salif Keta.

Chick Corea 01.jpgAfter mounting three hugely successful world tours, including the celebrated reprise of Return to Forever and his electro-acoustic quintet, the Five Peace Band, Grammy winner Chick Corea and his all-star Freedom Band featuring bassist Christian McBride, drummer Roy Haynes, and saxophonist Kenny Garrett is making a return appearance.

George Benson 02.jpgA ten-time Grammy winner and consummate entertainer, George Benson returns for his sixth appearance. Heralded as a world class guitarist and vocalist, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master continues to play to sold out crowds all over the world.

Celebrating their 40th anniversary, The Manhattan Transfer is the first group to ever win Grammy Awards in both the pop and jazz categories in the same year. Considered one of the most important, innovative groups in music history (their ground breaking album Vocalese scored a monumental 12 Grammy nominations), the highly acclaimed harmony quartet is returning for a long overdue third appearance.

The undisputed King of Cuban Dance Orchestras, Los Van Van is back after a ten year absence. Now that visa restrictions have been relaxed, fans will be thrilled to see Cuba’s most popular band, led by acclaimed bassist Juan Formell, returning to the Playboy stage for another pyrotechnic performance of their unique brand of ‘Songo’ music, which fuses the group’s infectious Cuban rhythms with synthesizers, jazz, rock, meringue, Brazilian music, and rap. The
Grammy-winning orchestra has added two new vocalists and three trombones to the flutes, violins, piano and percussion that round out their unique sound.

Sax for Stax, featuring contemporary jazz greats Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, and Jeff Lorber will take to the Playboy stage together for the first time to celebrate the legacy and timeless sound of the classic Memphis label, Stax Records. The concept for the trio’s show, which features dynamic interpretations of some of R&B’s best songs, is inspired by Sax for Stax, the soul-kissed, funk album released in 2008 by urban saxophonist Albright, who has sold over a million albums in the United States alone. The three also toured together previously as part of the ‘Groovin’ for Grover’ phenomenon, paying tribute to sax great and Festival favorite, Grover Washington, Jr. Reunited,
the hot group continues to play to sellout crowds wherever they go and will close the show on Saturday night.

An eight-time Grammy winner, vocalist Kurt Elling, called “the standout vocalist of our time” by the New York Times, is making his Festival debut. Considered by many to be the contemporary voice of vocalese, he sets his own deeply spiritual, compelling lyrics to solo works by Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny and others.

Marcus-Miller-01.jpgMultiple Grammy-winning bassist, Marcus Miller is also returning this year, with featured guest artist Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott. Having graced well over 400 albums in his two decade career, Miller has played with a myriad of legendary artists from Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, and Miles Davis, to Elton John, Eric Clapton and Mariah Carey, and is at the top of his game.

Widely considered one of jazz’s great orchestras, The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz
was the house band at the Hollywood Bowl from 1999 to 2001, while John Clayton also served as Artistic Director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Nominated eight times for a Grammy, bassist Clayton, his brother, saxophonist Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, formed the group together in the late eighties. Making a return appearance, their repertoire will include a special salute to famed drummer Louie Bellson.

Also making his debut is saxophonist Javon Jackson, who came to international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Jackson will be joined onstage by special guest Les McCann, the iconic soul-jazz pianist and vocalist. Together, he and McCann will perform the mega hit “Compared to What”, from McCann’s seminal 1969 release, Swiss Movement.

A one of a kind group, Naturally 7 has pioneered a distinct a capella style they call ‘vocal play’, where each member of the group uses their voice to replicate the sounds of a musical instrument. Founded by Roger Thomas, his brother Warren, and five other singers, Naturally 7 catapulted into the spotlight during 2007, when they opened for internationally acclaimed singing star Michael Bublé on his worldwide tour. Making a much anticipated debut, the group has been on a whirlwind for the last 14 months guesting on Ellen, and The Today Show, performing for Quincy Jones 75th birthday and playing to an enthusiastic crowd in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Their now famous Paris subway performance of their hit “Feel It” (In The Air Tonight), has garnered over five million hits on YouTube.

A unique musical artist, Jake Shimabukuro is recognized as one of the world’s most exciting and innovative ukulele players and composers. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, flamenco, and rock, the multitalented musician’s goal is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of much more than traditional Hawaiian music. His appearance not only marks the Festival debut of a young visionary, but the first time Playboy has ever presented a solo ukulele player.

Making his Festival debut at just 23, “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is an artist with the virtuosity to draw the unqualified respect of some of the most iconic legends in jazz and the ability to deliver a show capable of mesmerizing international rock stars as well as an audience.

Named a 2010 National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master, vibraphone great Bobby Hutcherson and acclaimed pianist Cedar Walton, also named an NEA Jazz Master this year, will appear together for the first time as part of a quartet at this year’s show.

salifkeita.jpgPioneering singer and composer Salif Keita’s appearance on Sunday marks the long awaited Festival debut of one of the world’s most unique performers. A royal descendant of the Emperor Soundjata Keita, whose 13th century empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara desert, Keita has stayed on the cutting edge of musical evolution for forty years, expanding the boundaries of modern Malian and world music. His soaring voice exemplifies a singer at the summit of his art, and his music expresses the nuance of joie de vivre where hope leads to triumph.

A surefire party-starter, Robert Randolph and the Family Band is returning for their second Festival appearance. Known for his jaw-dropping pyrotechnics on the pedal steel guitar, the group has made the leap from playing in church to headlining music festivals and touring with rock stars.

Esperanza Spalding 01.jpgAfter a knockout performance in a captivating debut last year, 25 year old bassist Esperanza Spalding is back for an encore by popular demand. Blending innovative vocal stylings with uncanny instrumental chops, she has already taken the jazz world by storm, performing with such distinguished musicians as Stanley Clarke, Dave Samuels, Pat Metheny and others. Clearly an up and coming star, she performed at the White House in February, 2009 and was also invited to play at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in honor of President Obama.

Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, bandleader, and recording artist Irvin Mayfield is the founder and artistic director of the lauded 16 piece New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Their music re-imagines unique New Orleans styles, blending them into a 21st century jazz sound that has quickly established him as one of the young giants of jazz.

Also making their highly anticipated debut, three-time Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre brings the rich traditions of Cuban music to the modern sounds of today. Celebrated for their dance-inducing performances, the first authentic all-Cuban timba band in the United States blends high voltage Latin jazz with the seductive rhythms of ‘son’.

Returning as master of ceremonies for his 29th year is jazz aficionado Bill Cosby, who will again bring together his own group of noted musicians. Featured in this year’s Cos of Good Music are distinguished bassist and composer Dwayne Burno, three-time Grammy-nominated world class drummer and percussionist Ndugu Chancler, two-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Mark Gross, vibes great Jay Hoggard, Juno Award-winning Canadian pianist DD Jackson and trumpeter/flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen, also a Juno Award winner.

A creative force on the Bay Area music scene for more than a decade, the loose knit band of musicians known collectively as the Jazz Mafia, has made a major contribution to contemporary jazz through their hip-hop symphony Brass, Bows and Beats. Seamlessly combining Latin polyrhythms, boom-bap rhymes, melancholy ballads, swinging jazz and blistering solos, while adhering to symphonic structure, the multi-thematic, genre-defying work both embraces and expands jazz tradition. With top-tier brass players and a premium rhythm section, The Jazz Mafia form one of the most powerful assemblies of virtuosic performers on the West Coast that should make for another exciting Festival debut.

Opening Saturday’s show at 2:30 p.m. is The El Dorado High School Band (the first school from Orange County to ever perform at the Festival) under the direction of Richard Watson. The L.A. All District High School Jazz Band under the Direction of Tony White and J.B.Dyas will open the show on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Darlene Chan, president of FestivalWest Inc. is the producer for the Playboy Jazz Festivals for the 32nd consecutive year. Hugh Hefner is executive producer and Richard Rosenzweig is president of the Playboy Jazz Festival.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster now. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.com. There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 10:10 PM

July 20, 2009

Smooth Jazz at the "Bowl"

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Holllywood Bowl
2301 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90068

With the scarcity of club venues for smooth jazz in LA and the tremendous loss of the JVC festival franchise, it was good news to see a variety of smooth jazz events scheduled at The Hollywood Bowl. Coming up are:

7/22/09 - Boney James & Fourplay
8/23/09 - Smooth Summer Jazz (formerly the JVC Jazz Festival) with Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, George Duke, Tower of Power & Doc Powell.

Other shows that smooth jazz fans may be interested in are:

8/7 & 8//09 - Herbie Hancock & Lang Lang w/the LA Philharmonic
8/19/09 - Patti La Belle
8/21 & 8/22/09 - Diana Krall & the LA Philharmonic
8/26/09 - Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band
9/2/09 - Chick Corea, Stanley Clark & Lenny White with special guests Jean Luc PonChaka
, Jean Luc Ponty, Bill Conners & others tba

If you've never been to the "Bowl" it's quite "the" experience. Invite your friends to join you, bring a sumptuous meal and your favorite beverages.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: The traffic getting to the bowl can cause major delays.....the earlier your arrive the more time you can have enjoying friends and food.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 10:36 PM

June 11, 2009


Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Playboy Jazz Festival.jpg

There's no better way to spend the upcoming weekend than at the legendary Hollywood Bowl enjoying great food, good friends and exceptional jazz at the 31st Annual Playboy Jazz Festival.


Saturday, June 13, 2009, 2:30 P.M.--11:00 P.M.
Sunday, June 14, 2009, 2:00 P.M. -- 10:30 P.M.

Hollywood Bowl, 2301 North Highland Ave, Los Angeles, California 90068

TICKETS: www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.com.

TALENT: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 2:30 P.M.-11:00 P.M.

The Neville Brothers
Remembering the Miles Davis Classic Kind of Blue @ 50 with Jimmy Cobb's So What Band, featuring Wallace Rodney, Vincent Herring, Javon Jackson, Larry Willis & Buster Williams
SUMMER STORM Starring Norman Brown, Phil Perry, Eric Darius, featuring Gail Johnson
Jon Faddis Quartet
The Jack Sheldon Orchestra
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Pete Escovedo Orchestra, featuring Shelia E, Peter Michael and Juan Escovedo
The Jack Sheldon Orchestra
Esperanza Spalding
COS of Good Music, featuring Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen, Luis Conte, Tanya Darby, and Geoffrey Keezer
New Birth Brass Band & the
LA County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble

TALENT: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 2:00 P.M.-10:30 P.M.

Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Brian Blade, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez
Kenny G
Patti Austin
King Sunny Ade
Dave Holland Big Band
Monty Alexander's Jazz & Roots
Oscar Hernandez and the LA Salsa All-Stars
Anat Cohen Quartet
Alfredo Rodriguez, presented by Quincy Jones
North Hollywood High School Jazz Ensemble

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:31 AM

May 12, 2009

You’ve Never Seen Anything Like This!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Sunday, May 24, 2009 - 5:00pm to 9:00pm
20th Annual KSBR Birthday Bash 2009
Village Green at Oso Viejo Community Park
24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo

Unless you been to the KSBR Birthday Bash in Mission Viejo, you’ve probably never seen a standing room only stage filled with A-list jazz artists jamming for four hours. With 50, yes 50, different artists rotating on and off the stage in various all-star configurations, playing each others music and improvising along the way, the audience experiences a once in a lifetime concert because it would be impossible for the music to happen in exactly the same way again.

Per tradition, the artists are revealed one per day on KSBR.org beginning May 1st. However, some extremely special guests cannot be announced prior to the event due to other contractual restrictions. Already announced artists are Greg Adams, Brian Allen, Johnnie Bamont, Michael Paulo, Joey Navarro, Johnny Sandoval, Lee Thornburg, James Wirrick, Bill Cantos, Chieli Minucci, Boney James, Gregg Karukas, Dan Siegel, & Nils.

The 20th Annual Birthday Bash comes as KSBR also celebrates 30 years of bringing jazz to Orange County and as Saddleback College radio station KSBR (88.5 FM) celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The Bash is returning for the 2nd year to the beautifully manicured and spacious grounds at the Village Green at Oso Viejo Community Park. Reserved “VIP” seating will again be offered directly in front of the stage, with no change in ticket price from previous years. VIP pass holders will enjoy reserved parking immediately adjacent to the venue, new banquet facilities for an enhanced pre-Bash dining experience, a larger stage for better sight lines, and more space in the VIP area for increased leg and elbow-room. VIP Platinum and Gold seats are priced at $175 and $100.General Admission Lawn Seating is $45. Although the Bash always has a variety of delectable food for sale, fans may bring their own food & drinks.

Tickets may be purchased at www.KSBR.org or at the Saddleback College Box Office, (949) 582-4656. For VIP & Gold tickets call (949) 582-4501.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: From experience, seasoned Bash attendees know that year after year artists of legendary status perform at the Bash but can't be announced prior to the event . So, get your tickets early b/c you'll be blown away when the final line-up is announced.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 11:22 AM

October 3, 2008

Rare West Coast Appearance: Chieli Minucci and Special EFX

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Photo provided by Chieli Munucci

Chieli 3 resized.jpgChieli & Special EFX
When: Friday, October 03, 2008, 8:00 pm
Where: Spaghetinni Grill & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Don’t miss a rare West Coast performance by Chieli Minucci and Special EFX at Spaghetinni in Seal Beach. Chieli is Smooth Jazz’ most musically diverse guitarist and Special EFX is Smooth Jazz’ most prolific band, with a combined 23 cd’s released since 1982. Minucci & Special EFX are beyond sensational with a vast repertoire of musical styles from pop to rock to all genres of jazz. Although Spaghetinni’s always presents good musical talent, Chieli and Special EFX are the “best of the best” and this show is sure to be the performance of the year at Spaghetinni’s. Therefore, early arrival and reservations are highly suggested.

Chieli will also be performing this weekend at the 18th Annual Jazz at Drew Festival.

Chieli Minucci special appearance w/the Karen Briggs All Star Band
(Mike Phillips, Vesta, Loose Ends, Lao Tizer & Sheryl Lee Ralph)

When: Sunday, October 5, 2008
Gates open at noon, Concert Begins at 1:00 pm
Where: Jazz at Drew
Charles Drew University Campus
1731 East 120th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90059
323.563.9690 - ticketmaster

The Jazz at Drew festival goers should get permission slips from their doctors before they attend Sunday’s show. And, anyone with a weak heart should avoid the Karen Briggs All Star Band. Just thinking about each individual artist in her all star line-up gives me heart palpitations……Karen Briggs….tick, tick, tick,…..Mike Phillips….tick, tick, tick,….Loose Ends….tick, tick, tick,…Chieli Minucci….tick, tick, tick….Lao Tizer….tick, tick, tick., ….Vesta…….kaboom! I just can’t imagine how they are going to keep the crowd under control once all of these mega-hyper performers descend upon the stage.

Also performing at Jazz at Drew:

Saturday, October 4, 2008
Les Mc Cann featuring Javon Jackson; Jeff Lorber ; Poncho Sanchez; The Wallace Roney Quintet; Nate Morgan’s Swinging ‘N Exile; Renaissance, Karen Brigss All Star Band (Mike Phillips, Chieli Minucci, Vesta, Lao Tizer, Loose Ends, Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sunday, October 5, 2008
Chrisette Michele; Third World; The Chi-Lites; Ricky Minor Band & Friends; Malcolm Jamal Warner’s Miles Long & LA Multi-School Hip Hop Orchestra; Latin Jazz All Stars (Pete Escovedo, Steve Turre, Ray Vega, David Valentine, Yunior Terry, Artuo O’Farril, Phoenix Rivera, & Chembo Corneil); Jazz at Drew All Stars featuring Leon James & Jabari Betts.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:14 PM

September 19, 2008

Young, Gifted and Oh so Soulful: A Conversation with Jackiem Joyner

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Photographs courtesy of Jackiem Joyner


jackiem_1068.jpgPerhaps it’s no coincidence that Jackiem Joyner, the 2007 Smooth Jazz News Debut artist of the year, shares the same birth month and day (February 7th) with two pioneers in music, saxophonists’ King Curtis and composer, lyricist and pianist, Eubie Blake and that he was born in the same city (Norfolk, VA) as two well-known saxophonists, Ernie Watts and Clarence Clemmons (Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band). However, coincidence has nothing to do with Joyner’s extraordinary talent.

In a recent conversation with this multi-talented musician I asked Jackiem, “What percentage of his musical talent could be attributed to nature vs. nurture?” The self-taught saxophonist, flutist, pianist, drummer, composer, and arranger thoughtfully replied, “It is a 100 percent gift that I had to tap into. So, here is the math…God gives me a talent that is 90% ready. The 10% is nurture or being obedient with the talent and nurturing it”.

In hearing Jackiem’s story, one might concur with Joyner that his talent and success has been orchestrated by a higher power. However, evenly weaved between the events of his life, emerges a clear picture of an artist who has not taken his divinely endowed gift for granted but has invested time to find his own voice and take his natural ability to the next level.

Jackiem Charvez Joyner was raised by his mother in Syracuse, NY, along with his sister and three brothers. At around age eleven, Joyner was so inspired by his church’s choir and their drummer that he would wait until after church service concluded to go up and play the drum set. Soon, without any formal training, Joyner was playing the drums and singing regularly at local churches.

Joyner made a major transition about four years later when he was a junior in high school. When Joyner wanted to join his high school band as a drummer, his band teacher asked him to switch to the tenor saxophone to round out the other instruments in the band. Without hesitation, Joyner picked up and began to play the sax with only a few quick instructions from his band teacher on how to position his fingers. After three weeks of playing the sax, Joyner’s music teacher had the principle and other teachers come to hear me play in the band room. It was during this time that Joyner fell in love with the sax and shortly thereafter formed a band called Inkrees. The band consisted of his two brothers who played bass and trombone, a good friend who played keyboard, a drummer, and Joyner on saxophone.

Inkrees performed at local talent shows and school recreational centers like the Boys and Girls Club until 1999 when Joyner won the local and state NAACP’s “Act-So Competitions and placed second in the nationals. Joyner participated in Act-So for three consecutive years and performed with the United States Band of Liberty in 1997 and 1999. Since then, Joyner has performed as a solo artist.

Jazz Gypsy: What makes your sound different?

Joyner: I am able to get into a zone that is engulfed by music and people can tell that I'm playing from the heart and soul.

Jazz Gypsy: Is that where jazz improvisation comes from?

Joyner: It’s not really jazz improv because that’s more technical. What I do is more soulful because it’s based on feelings.

Jazz Gypsy: How do you classify yourself as an artist?

Joyner: I don't really know were to start. Some say I'm a smooth jazz artist. Some say I'm Just a funky player. I tend to classify myself as funky R&B Instrumentalist.


Jazz Gypsy: Musically, who were you influenced by?

Joyner: Michael Jackson along with Stevie Wonder. Stevie had a huge impact on my approach to writing. I think my musical style is like Ne-Yo or Chris Brown. I also like old song chords like “Can’t Hide Love” and the work of Anita Baker and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Jazz Gypsy: Do you have any formal music training or education and which contemporary and traditional jazz artist have you been influenced by?

Joyner: I was self taught and strongly influenced by contemporary artists like Najee, Boney James, Kenny G, Kirk Whalum and Gerald Alright. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard Gerald play “My, My, My”, I was amazed. Also, Candy Dulfur was the first saxophonists’ I tried to copy or pattern myself after. When I first started playing the sax, I kept replaying a cover song she did or a month or two. I also spent two years studying the work of Charlie Parker.

Jazz Gypsy: I read that you toured with Keiko Matsui and went to Johannesburg, South Africa. What was that like?

Joyner: I’ve been to Africa three times and now I have friends there. Africa has an amazing spirit and now I know that is where rhythm comes from. I just returned from performing in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 29th, at the Joy of Jazz Theatre as part of Keiko’s band. Previously, I toured with Keiko in Jo’berg when she produced her Moyo cd. "Moyo" means heart and soul in the Swahili language. My first trip to Africa was in 2002 when I traveled on a United Nations plane to The Republic of Sudan which is in northeast Africa. I accompanied the pastor of my church to play the sax on that missionary journey where we were greeted by 1,000 children from a nearby refugee camp when we landed.

Ukrain, Blk&wht.jpg

Another interesting experience I had on tour with Keiko was a tour to Eastern Europe where we played in Istanbul, Turkey, Bucharest, Rumania, Kaliningrad, Russia, Lugansk, Ukraine, Odessa, Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine, Donetsk, Ukraine and Lviv, Ukraine. On this tour the architecture was amazing but it was very, very cold and depressing because of frigid temperature, gray skies and the fact that there were no leaves on the trees. But surprisingly, this is where I did some of my best composing while on a 12-hour train ride. The environment was so different that it makes me want to get out of the States and travel more.

Jazz Gypsy: Tell me about your debut Babysoul cd.

Joyner: I wrote the songs on Babysoul after I came back from touring with Ronnie Laws. That tour was my first major tour and it is where I gained my “soldier boots” because it was very tiring going from city to city. I took about a year to write all the songs and each one has a special meaning. The first song I wrote was “Stay With Me”. “This Time Around” is about starting something new. The title song, “Babysoul”, is about my introduction into the world as an artist. “Elevation” is an inspirational song I wrote to keep me motivated and inspired to succeed despite some challenging experiences I had with people in the industry. And, “Share My Tears” is an early song I wrote about my grand aunt who died that I was very close to, having spent every summer with her when I was younger. During the writing process for Babysoul, I needed to block things out, like the television and the internet, because I wanted to make a statement about direct reflection and how I had matured and grown on the outside.

Jazz Gypsy: How do you approach your work and what are you working on now?

Joyner: I’m working on a new cd that I hope to release in early 2009. This cd with be funky. I have to map out songs and determine what message I want to convey. It’s a challenging thought process that takes weeks of listening and incorporating my experiences.

Jazz Gypsy: Tell me about the greatest obstacle you’ve had to face as a musician.

Joyner: Well, there are many obstacles and sometimes the worse enemy if self, so to speak. There is always something present….always obstacles when you’re trying to move ahead. And, sometimes getting past self can be the hardest thing to do which includes things like procrastinating or worrying that things won’t go right with my band.

People don’t realize the many hours of work required for each show. And, I’m still growing and learning how to deal with circumstances and how to respond on the spot. A good example is when I had a reed brake at a show in Las Vegas and I had to quickly toss the lead to the band or when one of my sax screws came loose and had to be fixed right before I had to play a very important part when the audience was absolutely quiet. Although I spend a lot of time preparing for a show, I’m learning the how to respond in the moment.

Myspace cover-1.jpg

Jazz Gypsy: What advice do you have for young musicians?

Joyner: To keep practicing and be open to learning other instruments. Also, I hope to start offering clinics and concerts for high school students to give them an opportunity to talk, play and perform. I’d like to work with kids who are in band that love it. I would like to spark the flame that’s within then and help them find the hidden treasure within. That is how other musicians inspired me and I’d like to do the same for others. I want to share my approach to practicing that will help them maintain what they’ve learned in practice.

Jazz Gypsy: You recently played in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. How was that?

Joyner: I’ve performed in Denver three times and I’ve co-hosted a radio show with Denver’s on-air smooth jazz personality Becky Taylor so I have a lot of fans there. I didn’t perform at the Pepsi Center or INVESCO Field but I was a headliner at the week-long Jazz and Blues Festival which was the premier music event during the Democratic National Convention.

Jazz Gypsy: That was a major festival with a lot of music heavyweights.

Joyner: Yes. It was great to be included in such an awesome line-up that included Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Hugh Masekela, George Duke, Walter Beasley, Arturo Sandoval, Pieces of A Dream, Eric Darius, Pamela Williams, The Blackbyrds, Poncho Sanchez, Bobby Lyle, Warren Hill, Nick Colionne, Maysa, Jonathan Butler, Marion Meadows, Kevin Toney, and Jeffery Osborne among others.

Jazz Gypsy: There have been a lot of advances in technology. How are you using technology in your career?

Joyner: I use technology a lot. There are so many avenues of technology that didn’t exist before that are now available like Myspace, You Tube and Facebook. I use those avenues for online marketing. My music production is also facilitated by computer technology, since there’s been a huge leap forward in software sounds. I can record new sounds on my hard drive, master and mix sounds on my laptop and do mixing and performing with a keyboard attached to a lap top. The advances in technology have been great.

Jazz Gypsy: Not too long ago, I heard Richard Elliott & Rick Braun talking about what an amazingly dedicated and hard-working artist you are and that was why they chose to sign you to their R&R label. Tell me about that.

Joyner: My brother and I used to play Richard Elliott’s Chill Factor all the time. We played it in church and when we were in the high school band. I never thought I would be signed by Elliott years later. From the very beginning, I’ve taken the work of being a musician seriously. I always study the material because I’m dedicated to being an artist. As a result of my strong work ethic, sometimes I am very hard on my band.

Jazz Gypsy: You’re represented by Steve Chapman, right?

Joyner: Yes. Steve Chapman is the only English person I know. At first, I felt intimidated because he has such an impressive artist roster. I thought I was expected to act a certain way. But, I quickly found out that Chapman is a really cool, down-to-earth, regular guy. And, he’s also very funny. I’ve learned the thing that makes the best manager is having a good personal relationship based on friendship.

Jazz Gypsy: Outside of the musical arena, what are some of your other accomplishments?

Joyner: In high school I played a lot of sports. I was a strong forward or center on the basketball team and I loved to dunk. I was a distance runner on the track team and ran the 800 meter, 55 meter hurdle and the 400 meter. I’ve worked as a barber, growing up cutting the hair for my three brothers and I done my own hair for the past eight years. I also design websites like my own Myspace page and I play around with flash and html on my website jackiemjoyner.com.

Jazz Gypsy: So, with all those talents, if you weren’t working as a musician, what would you be doing?

Joyner: If I was not working as a musician I would completing studies to major in Chemical Engineering. I've completed 2 years so far.

Jazz Gypsy: Now, for an odd question. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have take five cd’s with you, which would they be?

Joyner: [laughing] Can I take my own?

Jazz Gypsy: Sure.

Joyner: In that case I’d take my first release, Babysoul, my upcoming cd, a cd by Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum’s Babyface cd and one by Yolanda Adams.

Jazz Gypsy: Thanks, Jackiem. This was a great conversation.

Joyner: You’re welcome.

Jackiem's Tour Schedule
September, 20 2008 - 08:00 PM - Green Valley Casino - Las Vegas, NV, w/Keiko Matsui
September, 25 2008 - The Grape – Charlotte, North Carolina
September, 27 2008 - 06:00 PM - Mable Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA
September, 28 2008 - 08:00 PM - Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre-San Diego, CA, San Diego, CA
October, 4, 2008 -12:00 PM - Catalina Island Jazz Festival - Catalina Island, CA, Catalina Island, CA
October, 11 2008 -12:00 PM - Catalina Island Jazz Fest - Catalina Island, CA, Catalina Island, CA
October, 19 2008 - 12:00 PM - Catalina Island Jazz Festival -Catalina Island, CA

Posted by JazzGypsy at 5:48 AM

September 12, 2008

Wayman Tisdale: Ain’t No Stopping Him Now

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

WaymanCostumeNight.jpgOne of the things I’ve always admired about bassist Wayman Tisdale is his happy-go-lucky attitude and his super-size smile. In an industry where many artists appear untouchable or off-limits, Wayman seemed to be an artist of “the people”, always stopping to say hello, take a photograph or sign an autograph. I was fortunate to see him up close and personal on several of the smooth jazz cruises and he always lit up the room with his infectious personality and laughter, elevating the mood of everyone around him.

In a recently released video message, with his bass by his side, Wayman is sitting on his couch at home showing his bandaged right leg while thanking his fans, management team and friends for their support during his medical challenge. Singing the words to his song, “It’s Alright”, Tisdale assures us that not only will he be on the smooth jazz cruise he’s set to host in January 2009 but that he’s going to lead the party and stay up the whole time. Although the message is short, it sends a very powerful and inspirational message confirming that Wayman is a man of faith with an undeniable spirit of grace under pressure who really does believe ….Ain’t No Stopping Him Now!

Video message: http://www.waymantisdale.com
Wayman Tisdale Smooth Jazz Cruise: http://www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com/

Photo: Me & Wayman in the Crow's Nest on costume night during the 2006 Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise

Posted by JazzGypsy at 5:30 PM

September 9, 2008

Breaking news: A cure for musical malaise has been discovered!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Daryl WilliamsResized.jpgWhen: Thursday, September 11, 2008
Where: Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Bassist, composer, producer Darryl Williams will be delivering a sure cure to help you beat the workday blues or anything else that ails you. This Thursday at Spaghetini’s, Williams, who is the bassist for Euge Groove and has a list of other noteworthy credits, will be performing with his own band.

Williams’ arsenal of potent prescriptions include "Take it Slow", "That Was Then", "Time, Good Bye", "On The Move", "La Jolla Shores", "Costa Rica", "Everything Must Change", "Gentle Thoughts", "When It Rains", and "The Truth", all from his new CD, That Was Then.

Convenient, self-administered dosages are recommended, if you are unable to get a live injection on Thursday.

Prescription: That Was Then
Frequency: Listen until your new music deprivation disorder disappears.
Instructions for Use: For best results, this music should be ingested live; however, everyday dosages of That Was Then will yield the same results.
Side effects: May cause intense smiling, a euphoric attitude, heightened sensual feelings, or the desire to be a better person.
Warming: Listen at your own risk. This music is highly addictive.

Free trial-size samples are available at http://www.darrylwilliamsmusic.com/music.html.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:49 AM

August 28, 2008

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: The JVC Jazz Festival Produces Another Festival Winner


Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Photographs by Mario

Sunday, August 17, 2008, 6:00 pm
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA

This year, the JVC Jazz Festival is celebrating its twenty-fifth year of presenting jazz performances in the US and abroad. From its inception, in Bad Segeberg, North Germany, the JVC Jazz Festival has presented extraordinary talent. The line-up from the first festival in 1984 included such legends as Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, B.B. King, Freddie Hubbard, Spyro Gyra, Steps Ahead, David Sanborn, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis. Since then, the JVC Jazz Festival has presented nearly 50,000 exceptional artists to over 4 million fans the world over.

The 2008 JVC season began in May in Miami (May 16-17), followed by New York (June 15-28), the North Sea (July 11-13), Chicago, IL (July 18-20), Newport, RI (August 8-10) Concord, CA (August 16), Los Angeles, CA (August 17) and will conclude in Paris, France (October 10-18). This season more than 100 jazz musicians representing a wide-spectrum of music will perform.

I caught up with the festival on a beautifully mild summer night in LA on August 17 at the legendary Hollywood Bowl where the sold-out event was co-sponsored by JVC and The Los Angeles Philharmonic. Beneath the brightly lit dome of the”Bowl”, twenty-four year old New Jersey born saxophonist Eric Darius lit up the stage with a stimulating performance of Al Green’s tune, “Let’s Stay Together”, followed by two more songs from his 2004 cd’ “Love TKO” and the title song, “Night on the Town” where Darius left the stage to serenade the appreciative crowd in the garden and terrace box seats. Darius also performed the title song from his new 2008 Blue Note/Capital Records release, “Goin’ All Out” and ended his set with “If I Ain’t Got You” and "Slick" from his 2006 cd, Just Getting Started. Darius’ high-energy, crowd-pleasing performance was followed by two-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist David Sanborn.

Born on July 30th sixty-three years ago in Tampa Florida, (where Darius currently resides), Sanborn has had a stellar career. At twenty-eight, Sanborn performed at the inaugural JVC Jazz Festival in Germany, and has gone on to play with such musical icons as Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Paul Simon, and James Taylor. With an illustrious career spanning more than four decades, Sanborn has released almost as many cd’s as Darius is old….twenty-three to date. With a treasure trove of original songs from which to choose, Sanborn delighted the crowd with “The Dream, and songs from his Double Vision cd as well as his latest 2008 release, Here and Gone. Seeing the back-to-back performances of newcomer Darius followed by the legendary Sanborn shows the type of innovation in programming that makes the JVC Jazz Festival a winner, year after year.

Up next, sassy, and soulful New Orleans born (Oakland raised) Verve recording vocalist Ledisi took the stage and captured the ears and hearts of the crowd. Weaving no-nonsense commentary between and even during her songs, Ledisi introduced the sophisticated LA crowd to what she called “funknicity”. The extremely talented neo-soul performer stretched her powerful musical chops from soul to jazz and back again singing a dozen songs from her two-time Grammy nominated cd, Lost and Found, including "Alright", "In The Morning", "My Name is – Leddy’s Theme", "Blues in the Night – We All Love Ella" and “Joy”. Revealing snippets of her personal struggle in and out of the music business, Ledisi comically counseled and inspired the ladies on how to be strong, independent and fierce women of character. Ledisi, which means “to bring forth” in Yoruba, honored her birth name bringing forth the ancestral voices of Ella, and Sarah while maintaining her unique originality and innovation.

The third saxophonist on the bill was saxophonist/songwriter/producer James Oppenheim, a.k.a. Boney James. Born in Massachusetts, raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., and now a resident of Los Angeles, James was clearly a crowd pleaser and warmly received as a “favorite son”. Delivering a smooth, soulful sound, James played instantly recognizable hits from over five of the ten cd’s he has released in the past decade. “Into the Blue”, “All Night Long”, “Stone Groove”, “Let It Go”, “Total Experience”, Aquas De Marco”, “Grazin in the Grass” and a medley which rounded out his set. With the crowd on their feet, swaying, and singing, the boundary between performer and audience seemed to disappear. The magic that only music can deliver made the crowd of over 18,000 people seem like an intimate gathering of friends and set the tone for the closing headliner, James Ingram.

IngramJVC.jpgWith a voice that’s as smooth as silk in 2008 as it was nearly four decades ago, Ingram seamlessly picked up the emotionally elevated crowd and took them even higher as he brought them down memory lane. With a string of hit songs, including “One Hundred Ways, “Just Once”, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?”, Baby Come to Me”, “Pretty Young Thing”, “I Don’t Have The Heart”, and “Secret Garden”, Ingram kept the crowd on their feet ‘till the very last note. And, unlike other large events, there was no early mass exodus to the parking lots and shuttle busses. Rather, fans lingered taking time to savor the many memorable moments from another very successful festival. To Executive Producer, George Wein and co-sponsors JVC and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, we are glad that you recognize that you have a winning formula and understand that ….If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: When attending events at the “Bowl”, save gas, and stress by taking the affordable and convenient shuttle. However, you should definitely purchase your shuttle ticket ahead of time so that you have priority and guaranteed seating.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:16 AM

July 11, 2008

Back by Popular Demand: Antonio Pontarelli Returns to Spagettini’s, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Photos by The Jazz Gypsy

AntonioPontarelli.JPGSpaghettini Grill & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway,
Seal Beach, California 90740
Tel: 562-596-2199

Seal Beach’s finest jazz club and grill was electrified by a new young talent, artist Antonio Pontarelli. The 17 year old electric violinist, vocalist and composer is a fast rising star that will soon eclipse a host of other musicians young and old. Pontarelli who began playing the violin at the age of three has already amassed a list of awards as long as your arm, and has been featured on several magazine covers. These accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that Pontarelli is still too young to even drive.

Although Pontarelli is “labeled” as a modern rock artist, he is skilled in playing all genres of music, including jazz. His opening set included "Sweet Georgia Brown", "Misty", "I’ve Got Rhythm", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Giant Steps", and "Straight No Chaser" but it was only a teaser of what was to come. Following a brief intermission, Pontarelli hit his musical stride playing from his jazz-rock-funk repertoire, which included a head banging rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s "All Along the Watchtower". Pontarelli turned the usually sophisticated and sedate dining patrons into an energetic and excited crowd that expressed their appreciation for being able to hear a fresh new musical voice that extends beyond what is normally heard on the smooth jazz circuit.

So exactly how does Pontarelli fit into this niche called smooth jazz? Consider the music of electric violinists’ Michael Ward, or Karen Briggs or guitarist Jeff Golub. And, actually, I’d like to see duet between Pontarelli and Golub……and I’m guessing by the reaction of the "Spag" patrons who saw Ponarelli last month that they’d enjoy a paring like that also.

For more information on Pontarelli, visit his website at www.antoniomusic.com or his myspace page at www.myspace.com/antoniopontarelli.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Mark your calendars for these upcoming performances at Spagettini's you don't want to miss:
7/13 - Chieli Minnucci - Wine and Jazz cd signing
7/17 - Steve Oliver
7/18 - Greg Adams
7/20 - Nils
7/31 - Tom Braxton
8/2 - Jackiem Joyner
8/15 - Marcus Johnson
8/21 - Althea Renee
8/23 - Incendio
8/29 - Greg Adams
8/31 - Poncho Sanchez

Posted by JazzGypsy at 8:39 AM

December 5, 2007

10th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert: A Rare Treat for Anyone Who Loves Really Good Music

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Saturday December 8, 2007, One show only - 8pm
Musician's Institute
1665 Mc Cadden Place
Hollywood, CA

3:00 pm – Drum Clinic with Abe Laboriel Jr.
4:30 pm – Final Competition, Carlos Vega Memorial Drum Scholarship
8:00 pm – Concert – One show only!

Every year, some of the greatest singers and musicians on the West Coast come together to pay musical tribute to their long lost friend and drummer extraordinaire, Carlos Vega. People come from all over the world and usually some of Carlos's family and friends attend as well.

The 2007 line-up of artists include Jim Keltner, Abe Laboriel Jr., Tom Brechtlein, & Forrest Robinson (drums); Demy Dias, Lee Ritenour, James Harrah (Guitar); John Pena , Carlitos Del Puerto (Bass); Lenny Castro, Richie Garcia, Mayuto Correa, Chris Trujilo (Percussion); Alex Ligterwood, Leslie Smith, James Felix, Moon Calhoun, Rosemary Butler (vocals); Larry Klimas, Bill Bergman (sax); Harry Kim, Walt Fowler (trumpet); Dori Cayimi, Adrian Tapia, Jimmy Earl, Amanda Maiden and “Government Cheese,” featuring Lexi Vega. And like each previous Tribute, even more surprise guest will be in attendance.

Last year was the first time I attended “The Tribute”. Initially, I was going because one of my favorite musicians, trumpeter Greg Adams, was performing. Adams was just one of over 25 artists on the line-up and he was the only musician I was familiar with. So the day before the concert, I decided to “Google” the other artists on the line-up. To my surprise and delight, my “Google” search revealed that everyone in the line-up had a very long and stellar musical lineage. Who knew? I didn’t. So now, I was stoked about not just seeing Greg Adams but the other artists as well. Thank you Google!

Last years’ Tribute was awesome. The ample-size stage was so crowded that the musicians had to play in shifts. And, best of all, the whole concert was an out-and-out jam session, with David Garfield at the helm both performing and orchestrating. I don’t know about you but sometimes I tire of seeing the well-scripted and rehearsed performances that are the mainstay of the smooth jazz circuit. Just because I like smooth jazz it doesn’t mean that I have divorced myself from the roots in which it sprang. Those roots include spontaneity, stretching out beyond the planned routine and delivering something fresh and in the moment. That’s what happens at the Carlos Vega Memorial Concert and why I say the event is a rare treat for anyone that loves good music.

Ticket Information
VIP seating is available online at Ticket Web or visit creatchy.com to pre-purchase the best seats which are being held on a first come, first serve basis. Tickets will be available at the door the night of the show, subject to availability. All VIP (prepaid) ticket holders can attend the drum clinic and competition for free.

There will be many equipment giveaways, raffle items and a silent auction going on all day. Auction items include drums, cymbals and a DW drum set.

About Carlos Vega
Carlos Vega, (December 7, 1956 – April 7, 1998), was born in Cuba and brought to the U.S. at an early age. He grew up in L.A. with many major session musicians and went to high school with Mike Landau, Jeff Porcaro, and Steve Lukather. In 1975 he co-formed a band called Karizma with his close friend David Garfield. Vega, a Los Angeles-based session drummer, was best known for his studio recordings and tours with James Taylor.

Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour was among the first to recognize Vega's talent and hire the young drummer to record and perform professionally. Ritenour also recommended Vega to Taylor when the latter needed a new drummer in the mid-'80s.

Sources report that besides his work with Taylor -- which included the studio releases "Never Die Young," "New Moon Shine," and "Hourglass," plus Taylor's "(Live)" album -- Vega had recorded and/or performed with Freddy Hubbard, Boz Scaggs, Lee Ritenour, Vince Gill, Reba McIntire, Olivia Newton-John (including the "Grease" soundtrack), Larry Carlton, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, and Randy Newman. To read more about Vega: http://www.james-taylor.com/sbj/issue3/carlos.shtml

All proceeds from The Tribute will go to The Carlos Vega Memorial Drum Scholarship.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Tired of the monotonous performances on the smooth jazz circuit? The Carlos Vega Annual Memorial Birthday Tribute is the antidote!

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:40 PM

November 20, 2007

Kick Off The Holiday Season In Style: Two Premier BB Jazz Events

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, 7pm
A Peter White Christmas featuring Peter White, Mindi Abair & Rick Braun

Rick Braun.jpg Mindi Abair.jpg artist_peter_white[1].jpg

Monday, December 31, 2007, 8pm
A New Years Eve Gala featuring Jeffrey Osborne

Jeffery Osborne.jpg

Hyatt Regency,Resort & Spa
21500 Pacific Coast Highway,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648


The holidays are a special time of year when family and friends get together to celebrate and embrace the spirit of the holidays. Holidays are also a time when we put away our summer tees, tanks, shorts and jeans and slip into our celebratory attire. And, one of the best places to begin the holiday season is at the elegant Hyatt Regency Hotel in Huntington Beach, CA.

94[1].7WaveLogo.jpgJoin 94.7 The Wave & BB Jazz for two great evenings of music, dinner, and dancing: A Peter White Christmas, on Saturday, November 24, 2007, 7:00 pm, featuring Peter White, Mindi Abair, Rick Braun and opening artist, Jackiem Joyner. And, A New Year's Gala, on Monday, December 31st, 8:00 pm, featuring Jeffery Osborne and opening act DW3 and DJ Jonathan Phillips.

A Peter White Christmas is always a fun and cheery concert. The Huntington Beach show on November 24th is the second date of the Peter White Christmas tour that is scheduled for over twenty cities nationally. White, Abair & Braun’s cd of the same title was recently released on September 25, 2007 and it captures the magic of the holiday and the synergy of the trio.

Jackiem Joyner.jpgThe opening artist, Jackiem Joyner, is a new, major talent. Already this year, I have seen Joyner perform at four very diverse venues; The Berks Jazz Festival, The Inland Empire Jazz Festival and twice at The Catalina Jazz Festival as a headliner with his own band. Each time Joyner performed, he wowed the crowds and garnered multiple standing ovations.

Joyner’s sound is so delectable that you just don’t want him to leave the stage. He also has a stage presence that is equally endearing. Recently signed to ARTizen Music Group, which is co-owned by Rick Braun and Richard Elliott, Joyner has released his debut cd, Babysoul. The first single released from Babysoul, “Stay With Me Tonight" features Peter White and has risen to the top 20 on the smooth jazz charts.

The next special holiday date is Monday, December 31, 2007, 8:00 pm when BB Jazz presents A New Year’s Eve Gala featuring Jeffrey Osborne with opening artist, DW3 and DJ Jonathan Phillips.

What better way to ring in the New Year than with one of the best R&B vocalist of our time? Osborne, an original member of Love Men, Ltd., a.k.a., LTD, recorded such memorable hits as "Every Time I Turn Around (Back In Love Again)", "Love Ballad" and "(Holdin' On) When Love Is Gone". Then as a solo artist, Osborne captured the decade of the eighties with five gold and platinum albums, leaving an indelible mark in the musical memory of the baby boomer generation.

DW3.jpgThe opening act, DW3, is Southern California’s hottest old school, funk, dance and Latin jazz band. Widely known for the vocal abilities, this LA-based band is one of the most musically diverse groups with a loyal following. The band consists of Eric Mondragen (leader, keyboards, lead vocals), Billy Mondragen (percussions, lead vocals), Damon (lead vocals), Bryant Siorio (bass) and Ronnie Guitierrez (drums, percussions). (http://www.myspace.com/muzicaldragon)

With DJ Jonathan Phillips spinning music that will that will carry the evening over into the wee morning hours, why not begin the New Year in a spectacular oceanfront setting in beautiful Southern California at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Resort & Spa? With luxury accommodations, this four-story Huntington Beach hotel is perched above the historic Pacific Coast Highway and provides stunning views from 517 guestrooms including 57 suites... each with its own private terrace. The hotel features three restaurants, a lounge, a retail-shopping plaza, more than 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and the Pacific Waters Spa providing treatments indigenous to Pacific Island cultures.

BBJazzLogo_Color[1].jpgBB Jazz is known for their "sophisticated but never stuffy” concerts and festivals where everybody has a really good time. Proceeds from both events also go to help raise awareness and funds for children with autism.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: A Peter White Christmas is the featured November/Holiday Wine and Jazz Experience. This first holiday package offered by WineandJazz.com includes A Peter White Christmas cd, Rideau Vineyard’s 2005 Tempranillo & 2005 Fleur Blanche wines, bottled with Rideau’s special New Orleans jazz label, two special holiday wine glasses plus photographs and other goodies. Treat yourself or a family member, friend, business associate or client with an elegant gift they will thank you for all year round. www.wineandjazz.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:47 PM

November 8, 2007

You Can Never Get Enough of a Good Thing: Michael Lington appears this Sunday in Santa Monica; Wednesday at Universal CityWalk!!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Lington.jpgSat., Nov. 11th - 11:00 – 1:00 pm
i Cugini
1501 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA

Wed., Nov. 14th – 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
BB King’s Jazz & Blues Club
Universal CityWalk
Universal City, CA

Join Michael Lington this Sunday, 11/11, at Santa Monica's favorite smooth jazz restaurant, i Cugini, for a special autograph signing in celebration of Lington’s latest album, A SONG FOR YOU, from 11am - 1pm at 94.7 The WAVE's Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch! On A Song For You, Denmark-born Lington has mastered the iconic American contemporary and pop songs of the 70’s, layering each track with distinctive sensual and emotional gradations.

I Cugini is known for serving the finest Italian seafood cuisine in Southern California where the daily menu is not determined until the catch of the day is brought to the kitchen. It’s the perfect place to end or begin your week where you can see the relaxing sights and hear the calming sounds of crashing waves ebb and flow over the sandy Santa Monica shoreline. The elegant décor includes vaulted ceilings, parquet wood floors, terrazzo marble countertops, huge murals, and massive columns, reminiscent of an Italian seaside patio. Reservations are suggested.

Then, on Wednesday, 11/14, Lington and his band will perform at 7pm for The WAVE's Wednesday Jazz Series at BB King’s Jazz & Blues Club at Universal CityWalk in Universal City. BB King’s intimate, cocoon-like setting is the perfect venue to experience Lington’s rich, full-bodied, sax-voice that is both exhilarating and passionate, making his live performances a sumptuous indulgence. Call ahead to guarantee your reservation for this incredible evening!

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: The Michael Lington Wine and Jazz Package is still available from www.wineandjazz.com. This special package includes Lington’s A Song for You cd, Rodney Strong’s 2004 Knotty Vines Zinfandel & 2003 Alexander’s Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a bonus gift of two of Lington's own personal brand of cigars – The Michael Lington Classics.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 7:20 PM

November 7, 2007

Berks Jazz Festival on Sale Dec. 1st: You Won’t Want To Miss This Early Bird Special

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Berks08_Logo.jpgBerks Jazz Festival
March 28 – April 6, 2008
Reading, PA

I am not impartial when it comes to my preferences for jazz festivals. Some are good, some are better and some are best. To make my top 5 list, a jazz festival has to be pretty awesome. The Berks Jazz Festival in Reading, PA, is not only on my top 5 list but it’s #1.

For those of you who’ve never attended Berks, you’re probably scratching your head and asking:
Berks….what is that? Reading….where is that? No. 1…..how can something I’ve never attended rank so highly?

Remember when former President Bill Clinton said, “It’s about the economy, stupid!” Well to smooth jazz fans, I’d say, “It’s about the music, smarty!” And, this is what Berks delivers: music, music and more music.

The Berks Jazz Fest began in 1991 with about a dozen events. Since 2000, this 10-day festival has become a world-class event, featuring more than 130 shows. Many of the artists that will be on tour during 2008 will appear FIRST between March 28 & April 6, 2008 at Berks.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the confirmed line-up for 2008: Nancy Wilson, Buddy Guy, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Brian Bromberg, Richard Smith, Gregg Karukas, Paul Brown, Kenny Rankin, Marc Antoine, Gerald Albright, Peter White, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber, Gerald Veasley, Bobby Lyle, Chuck Loeb, Walter Beasley, Everette Harp, Kim Waters, Jason Miles, Euge Groove, Alex Bugnon, Regina Carter, Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Maysa, Phil Perry, Maria Muldaur, Eric Bibb, Campbell Brothers, Clarence Spady, Bonerama, Dave Samuels, Paquito D'Rivera, Will Lee. And, again, many more artists will be added.

What else makes Berks my #1 pick for US smooth jazz festivals? Pricing. In California, a single VIP seat can cost up to $260. At Berks, the same seat is less than $50. Sure, you don’t get food and beverages but you do get a premium seat (within the first four rows) and with the $210 you saved on the seat, you can buy your own dinner and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Two years ago, I purchased tickets for 14 different shows at Berks for less than what I paid for tickets at a 3-day festival on the East Coast. At Berks, most of my seats were on the front row; none were beyond the 4th row.

Why Berks?
1. The music, the music, the music – over 130 shows – you can see almost every major smooth jazz artist in two weekends - not just the smooth jazz circuit regulars.
2. Affordable prices – everybody can afford front row tickets – without having to get a second mortgage on your house or selling your first born child.
3. Different genres of music – you can overdose on smooth jazz shows - but also sample a little straight ahead, blues and/or country.
4. Freedom to enjoy yourself - a very cool, hip and relaxing vibe – no dance police, strip searches or confiscation of your cameras.
5. The warmth of the Berks Jazz Council – not only do the promoters they act like they want you there - but they actually treat you in a way where you know they want you to come back!
6. Location, location, location - centrally located to Philly, DC & NY – close enough to visit a few major East Coast cities between the two major weekends of music.
7. Enjoy America’s favorite winter sport - shop ‘till you drop at the outlets, upscale malls and antique stores in the Greater Reading area – and more importantly, support the companies that support smooth jazz –like the Vanity Fair Outlet in Reading, Berks new Title Sponsor for 2008.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Become a Berks Arts Council Jazz Circle member at a $50 level and get your Jazz Fest tickets before they go on-sale to the public. Tickets for Jazz Circle members go on sale December 1st. Berks Art Jazz Council membership also gives you additional privileges and benefits. (www.berksarts.org/membership)

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:59 PM

October 18, 2007

All Aboard! Last Chance For 2007 Catalina Jazztrax Festival

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

The final weekend of the Catalina JazzTrax Festival begins this week and if it’s even half as good as the first two weeks you’ll want to be there, since the first two weeks of JazzTrax brought unbelievably great familiar, new and emerging talent to the historic Casino Ballroom. Outstanding performances were delivered by every performer during weeks one and two, where most artists garnered multiple standing ovations from seasoned jazz fans who traveled from around the globe to be a part of the decade anniversary of this festival. Below is a brief review of performances that were exceptional.

Newcomer Jesse Jay’s set included original songs that were fresh and infused with a contemporary Latin flavor that is sure to set her apart and quickly move her to the forefront once her debut cd, Tequila Moon, is released in February 2008.

Nick Colionne’s set was absolutely incredible and will probably be voted the best performance of the festival. Colionne can easily be considered one of the best showmen in the industry, based not only on his ability to connect with the audience but also because of his extraordinary talent as a musician. Playing everything from contemporary jazz to smooth jazz to blues to rock and roll, Colionne had the audience in the palm of his hand. Colionne’s pairing of storytelling, humor and superb musical talent make him a musical tour de force. His show is an “experience” that is unrivaled in the smooth jazz industry.

Other performances of note where delivered by newcomers Lao Tizer, and Jackiem Joyner and emerging artist Ollie Silk. Both Joyner and Silk, in their separate sets, exercised full command on stage with perfectly executed performances that equaled that of their contemporaries, making it hard to believe they are new and emerging artists.

On the ferry ride back to the mainland, I had an opportunity to talk to Silk and ask him about his experience at Catalina JazzTrax for the second year. Silk, who was voted debut artist of the year in 2006 by JazzTrax and Smooth Jazz News, said “the designation was a double whammy that was quite unexpected and a privilege that blew me off the ground”. When I asked Silk what did he think contributed to his outstanding performance this year, he replied, “experience and confidence”. “Last year was my first show in the US and since then I’ve been learning what the big guys know from experience, like Peter White… what the audience appreciates. It helps to know what the audience wants. Like the noon crowd [at Catalina], they just had their breakfast and coffee and they want to ease into the music and they want a little humor”, Silk continued. He concluded by saying, “I’ve been in the audience so I know what they want.” Based on Silk’s performance he certainly has not only learned a lot but is also aptly able to demonstrate what he has learned.

Three other exceptional sets were Candy Dulfur’s high energy, funky, and fun performance; Michael Lington’s soulful, feel-good, up tempo set, and Jazz Attack’s (Rick Braun, Richard Elliott, and Peter White) groove-till-you-can’t-move closing night concert Sunday night.

The line-up for this third and final week is:
• Friday, Oct. 19 – 7:30 p.m. - Lao Tizer, Tim Bowman
• Saturday, Oct. 20 – Noon - Jackiem Joyner, Pieces of A Dream,
• Saturday, Oct. 20 – 7:00 pm - Greg Karukas, Kirk Whalum
• Sunday, Oct. 21 – Noon - U-Nam, Paul Jackson, Jr.
• Sunday Oct. 21 – 7:00 pm - Jesse Jay, Norman Brown’s Summer Storm (Norman Brown, Jeff Lorber, Marion Meadows, Peabo Bryson)

Although I’m predicting fabulous performances from all the artists again this week, I am particularly excited to see performances by Tim Bowman and the popular and nearly legendary East coast Band, Pieces of A Dream. Although Bowman was scheduled to appear at Catalina last year, his performance was cancelled due to an unexpected illness by one of his family members. And even though we got to see a glimpse of Bowman when he toured this year with Guitars and Saxes, along with Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum and Jeff Golub , this will be a rare opportunity to see Bowman take center stage with his own show.

Another performance to look forward to is Pieces of A Dream, (Pieces) whose band is comprised of James Lloyd (keyboard), Curtis Harmon (drums), and Eddie Baccus (saxophone). Co-founders Lloyd and Harmon have been performing together in the greater Philadelphia area for over three decades under the names Classic Touch, A Touch of Class and Galaxy before renaming their group in 1979 to Pieces Of A Dream after the Stanley Turrentine hit song of the same name. “Pieces” was discovered by the late, great Grover Washington Jr. who produced their first three recordings, Pieces of a Dream, We Are One and Imagine This.Pieces” high-energy style and natural flair for over-the-top entertainment is sure to win the musical hearts of many on the West Coast that may not have seen them perform live before.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Another great reason to hop over to the island this weekend is to see and purchase the artwork by fine artist Bettie Grace Minor. Minor has an awesome array of fine art of nearly every major smooth jazz artist. To see a preview, visit http://www.minerworksofart.com/

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:47 PM

October 5, 2007

Even If You’ve Been Naughty, You Deserve A Soulful Little Christmas!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

CulbertsonXmasPoster07.jpgHopefully you’ve been nice enough this year that you won’t get a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking. But even if you’ve been naughty, you still deserve to treat yourself, your friends and relatives to Brian Culbertson’s 2007 A Soulful Little Christmas.

For many smooth jazz fans, early spring to late summer is when they can feast on a wide variety of smooth jazz events. From multi-day festivals to single concert performances, there’s a multitude of events to choose from. For me, the smooth jazz festival season begins in March with the granddaddy of all festivals, the Berks Jazz Festival in Reading, PA and my smooth jazz festival season ends with the third and final week of the Catalina Jazz Festival in Avalon, CA, another top 10 US smooth jazz festival. After that, at least comparatively, there’s not much to choose from.

Fortunately, all of us “smooth jazz junkies”, we don’t have to give up our smooth jazz habit cold turkey because the smooth jazz Christmas tours can help ease our “withdrawals” of going from a smooth jazz feast during the spring and summer to what feels like a famine in early fall. This year, Brian Culbertson’s A Soulful Little Christmas featuring, Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, Nick Colionne, Howard Hewitt and introducing newcomer Victoria White is sure to provide enough holiday cheer to keep us from going into a complete downward spiral of withdrawal.

With a 19-city US tour planned, A Soulful Little Christmas tour should be coming to a city near you or close enough to a city near a relative or old friend that you’ve been meaning to visit. What better way to rekindle a relationship or keep a good relationship going than by picking up the phone and inviting an old friend or a distant relative to a wonderful holiday concert with YOUR favorite artists. That’s a win-win and a sure way to keep that lump of coal out of your stocking, at least until next year!

NickColionne_wbgr.jpgView the full A Soulful Little Christmas tour schedule on Nick Colionne's website at www.nickcolionne.com. Colionne, who was named International Instrumentalist Artist of the Year at the 2007 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, will end 2007 with the following performances:

Oct 6 - Avalon, CA – Catalina JazzTrax Festival
Oct 7 - Chicago, IL - "In The Limelight" Benefit & Celebrity Auction
Oct 13-14 - Rehoboth Beach, DE - Annual Autumn Jazz Festival
Oct 26 - Davenport, IA - Smooth Jazz Fall Festival - Quad Cities
Oct 28 - Estero, FL - Jazz On The Green
Nov 4 - Rancho Mirage, CA - Art Affaire Festival

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Colionne's latest CD Keepin' It Cool on Narada Jazz/Blue Note makes a great stocking stuffer or holiday gift.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:19 PM

October 3, 2007

What is hip? Greg Adams performs w/special guests for MusiCares, Oct. 12, 13, 2007


Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Photos courtesy of Ripa Records.

October 12, 13, 2007, 8:00 pm
Spaghettini Grille & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Who doesn’t know Greg Adams? Adams was a founding and 25-year member of Tower of Power and the architect of Towers’ big horn sound. The trumpeter is also an arranger, composer, conductor, and record executive on his own label, Ripa Records (www.riparecords.com).

With the release of four exceptionally fantastic cd’s, (Hidden Agenda, 1995, Midnight Morning, 2002, Firefly, 2004 and Cool to the Touch, 2006), Adams will soon be better known for his solo career than he is for the single “What is Hip?", arguably one of Tower’s most popular songs of all time. Adams received a Grammy nomination in 1981 for the best arrangement accompanying a vocal for this 80’s era-defining tune.

Albulm cover.bmp

On Saturday, October 12 & 13th, Adams and his band will performing two shows each night, beginning at 8:00 pm, at Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach, CA, as a fundraiser for MusiCares. Each night, they will auction off a score of a replica of Adams’ original score of “What is Hip?” It is the second score that Adams had to generate for the recording booth when Tower did the Sheffield Labs "Direct" record. Handcrafted in pencil in Adams' own hand, this11-page, limited edition of 10, numbered and signed by Adams, comes with a Certificate of Authencity. The bidding will start at $500 for this score that retails for $1,500. Adams will donate all of the proceeds to Music Cares.

Music Cares logo.jpgMusiCares is a charity for musicians in need of assistance that ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical or personal need. “Whether it’s drug or alcohol abuse, homelessness or heath care, there are so many musicians that fall through the cracks and they don’t have anything to show for their life’s work”, said Adams in a recent interview. “Music Cares has other very large $5,000 a plate fundraising dinners at UCLA with celebrities like Andre Agassi and David Foster and I’m just trying to do my part,” Adams continued.

MusiCares representatives will be on hand to provide it's passion and information about the MusiCares ® Foundation and Spaghettini will sponsor a raffle of their world class Sunday Brunch for four ($10.00) Valued at $260.00. Spaghettini's Entertainment Director, "Q", will be the master of ceremonies for this auction.

During the two-night performance, Adams will be bringing in some celebrity musicians to perform with his band. Admission is free; however, due to the popularity of this event, it’s suggested that you call ahead to reserve a table or seat (for which there is a charge).

The Jazz Gypsy Tips: Get your FREE download of Greg Adams new single, “Five to Eleven” on Adams' website, www.riparecords.com. Also, check back in a few days to read the revealing, 40-minute, "Beneath the Surface" interview with Greg Adams.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:38 PM

October 2, 2007

Pack your bags and head West to Catalina for Week 1 of the Catalina Island Jazz Festival

JazzTrax Decade Anniversary Photo.jpgWritten by The Jazz Gypsy
Photos courtesy of Jazztrax.com & Catalina Island Express

Catalina Jazz Festival
Oct. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21

Catalina Express

What do you get when you combine all the best elements of a great vacation destination with the best elements of a great smooth jazz music festival? Heaven on earth a.k.a. the Catalina Jazz Festival.

Those in the know are already packing their bags and preparing for the first weekend of the decade anniversary Catalina JazzTrax celebration that begins with an incredible slate of great musicians:

Descano Beach.jpgThursday, Oct. 4th
4:45 pm - Wrigley Ranch Unplugged Session - Ray Parker, Jr.

Friday, Oct. 5th
7:30 pm & 9:00 pm shows - Paul Brown, Marion Meadows

Saturday, Oct. 6th
Noon & 2:00 pm shows - Jesse Jay, Nick Colionne

7:00 pm & 9:30 pm shows - Nils, Candy Dulfer
After Party on the beach at Descanso

Sunday, Oct. 7th
Noon & 2:00 pm shows - Lao Tizer, David Pack

7:00 pm & 9:30 pm shows - Four 80 East, Mindy Abair
After party at The Landing Courtyard

Is it too late to get a hotel?
A myth always circulates that all the best hotels are sold out months or weeks before the festival begins. However, that’s far from the case. More than 30 hotels occupy the ocean fronts and hills at Catalina, ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to luxurious, ocean-view suites. Up-to-date hotel availability is available at www.catalinachamber.com.

Catalina Express Photo.jpgWhat the best way to get there and back?
Catalina Island Express offers up to 30 departures daily from ports in Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, CA. in addition to a special 11:45 pm late night ferry back to Long Beach (Downtown Landing) every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night during Jazztrax. Fare prices vary according to age and senior (55+) discounts are available.

You can also enjoy priority boarding, comfortable seating in a more intimate lounge environment and a complimentary beverage with packaged snack served by cabin attendants for a $10 upgrade each way in the Commodore Lounge. Leather trimmed seats in the Lounge are wider, recline for comfort and offer individual tray tables. In addition, the Commodore Lounge’s upper level location on the JetCat Express, Starship Express and Catalina Jet catamarans offer panoramic windows for great ocean views.

Traveling in a party of up to 8? Then consider upgrading to the Captain’s Lounge for increased privacy, and exclusivity. Captain’s Lounges offer pre-boarding privileges, complimentary champagne, plush seating and amenities for just a $40 upgrade (room charge) per party over the normal fare. Catering is available for passengers traveling in the Captain’s Lounge.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Advance ferry reservations are highly recommended as certain departure times sell out. Also, if applicable, don't forget to ask for the senior (55+) discount.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 9:50 AM

September 26, 2007

Answer: 94.7 the Wave. Question: Guess who's turning 20?

Greek-Theatre.jpgWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

Photos courtesy of The Greek Theatre

The popular Los Angeles radio station KTWV, 94.7 The Wave Smooth Jazz, turned 20 this year, officially on February 14, 2007. To commemorate this important occasion,"The Wave" is celebrating in grand style with two full evenings of jazz, R&B, and soul music under the stars.

Michael-McDonald.jpgBilled as the Mercedes-Benz Wave Fest, music lovers will enjoy the intimate outdoor amphitheatre setting of the world-renowned, award-winning Greek Theatre. “The Greek” is nestled in the picturesque tree-lined setting of Griffith Park.

Below is the line-up for this much anticipated event.

Indie-Arie.jpg7:00 p.m., Friday, September 28th -
Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Marc Antoine, Poncho Sanchez

7:00 p.m., Saturday, September 29th
India.Arie, Ziggy Marley, Ottmar Liebert, Phillippe Saisse Trio

Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets including Wherehouse Music, select Macy’s locations and Ritmo Latino. To charge by phone, call (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, or at The Greek Theatre Box Office.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 2:04 AM

September 25, 2007

Jazz at the Beach with Boney James & Paul Taylor

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Photographs by Kendall Dixon

Pier & Ocean Background.JPGTake a hot and sunny day, add in the beautiful blue waters of the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, dot the shoreline with classic California palm trees, mix in two of the hottest saxophone players in the business and shake it up with a few thousand avid smooth jazz fans and you’ve got the perfect beach party.

Sunday, September 23, 2007, 3,000 smooth jazz fans from San Diego to Los Angeles defied the severe weather warnings that predicted tropical rains and came out en masse for an afternoon of sax on sax. Produced by KiFM, San Diego’s Smooth Jazz 98.1 The Breeze, the sold out event was held at the historic Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, CA. Kelly Cole, on air radio personality from the station opened the show and introduced Peak Recording artist saxophonist Paul Taylor.

Paul Taylor.JPGTaylor immediately laid down a sensuous tone for his set as he launched into "Here We Go", from his new 2007 release, Ladies Choice, that is currently in the top 10 on the national smooth jazz charts. From there, the audience snapped their fingers, swayed their arms and swiveled their hips to three additional songs from Ladies Choice including the title song, “Ladies Choice”, “Love of Your Own”, and “Long Distance”. Also, to the sheer delight of the crowd, Taylor performed his ever popular “Pleasure Seeker”, (Pleasure Seeker, 1997), “P.T. Cruiser” (Hypnotic, 2001) and “Exotica” from Taylor’s first release in 1985, On the Horn.

Taylor’s fluid, smooth style, warm charisma and hypnotic rhythms completely enchanted the audience that gave him several standing ovations. Taylor’s band included K.T. Tyler (bass), Ray Mouton (guitar), Boy Katindig (keyboard), and Terrell Martin (drums). Lauren Evans’ lead vocals on “Love of Our Own” and “Long Distance” added a rich, crisp yet sultry sound.

It’s always a pleasure to see Taylor perform, especially since his style and sound is the ultimate personification of smooth jazz. The fans showed their appreciation during the show and afterwards as they formed a long line for autographs, and cd purchases.

BJames serenades fan in VIP.JPGDuring intermission, Mark Vrabel from the All Star Smooth Cruise announced that Haven Entertainment was giving away a free cruise for two at the end of the concert. Both Paul Taylor and Boney James will be performing on the All Star Smooth Cruise, hosted by Norman Brown, which departs from San Diego in January 2008. Other artists on the cruise or scheduled to perform at the land concert prior to sailing to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, are Kenny G, Patti, Austin, Nick Colionne, Warren Hill, Chieli Minucci, Marion Meadows, Four Play, Larry Carlton, Shilts, Steve Oliver, Alan Hewitt, Acoustic Alchemy, Althea Rene, Kool and the Gang, The Four Tops and The Spinners.

At approximately 5:00 pm with the sun still ablaze in the background, Mike V, Musical Director and Lenny B, on air radio personality from KiFM, introduced two-time Grammy nominated sax star saxophonist Boney James who was greeted with a standing ovation. James’ band, comprised of Eric Daniels (keyboard), Mike Feingold (guitar), Sam Simms (bass), and Omari Williams (drums), served up a funky back beat that kept the crowd spontaneously jumping up to dance despite the “Dance Police” that kept trying to keep people in their seats. It was a loosing battle…..because everybody knew it was a beach party not a wake! Even Boney encouraged everybody to keep on groovin’ as he left the stage to serenade the guests in the VIP section before catapulting to the top of the stairs to perform in the midst of enthusiastic fans in the bleachers.

Lauren Evans.JPGBoney’s extended 11-song set included "Into the Blue", "All Night Long", "Stone Groove", "In the Rain", "Let it Go", "Metropolis", "Aguas De Marco", A medley of "Ain’t no Sunshine", "Creepin'" and "Sweet Thing", "Total Experience", "See What I’m Saying" and "Grazin’ in the Grass". Although the party ended at the beach at about 6:20 pm, I’m sure the smooth vibe continued well into the night. Now that’s a beach party!

The happy winner of the All Star Smooth Cruise hosted by Norman Brown was a smooth jazz fan from Chino Hills, CA.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Boney’s new Christmas cd was just released on September 19th and features duets with R& B stars Chante Moore, Angie Stone and Anthony Hamilton. Trumpeter Rick Braun also reunites with James on this holiday classics cd.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:59 PM

September 20, 2007

Living The Good Life via the Wine and Jazz Experience

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Photography courtesty of Mario, Wine and Jazz and Spaghettini
CD Artwork courtesty of Bettie Grace Minor

Wine and Jazz

Be sure and read The Jazz Gypsy Tip at the end….it’s a great news scoop!

WineJazzGroup.jpgFor those of us who work hard we know the value of playing even harder. Enter the ultimate indulgence……..the Wine and Jazz Experience. Proprietors, smooth jazz fans and wine lovers, Mike and Cindy Nordskog, have found a winning combination by pairing smooth jazz with the finest wines delivered to your door (home or office) every two months. To celebrate the pairing, the Nordskog’s also produce Wine and Jazz Autograph Sessions for each new release. These give smooth jazz fans the rare chance to meet and talk with the artists in a relaxed and fun atmosphere and taste wine.

In just 18-months, this new company has carved out a unique niche in the smooth jazz industry with their first 10 wine and jazz packages:

Pkg. No.- Artist(s) - CD - Wine - Wine Package Release Date

10. Rick Braun & Richard Elliott, R & R, Benessere Vineyards, 9/07
09. Nick Colionne, Keepin’ it Cool, Tobin James Cellars, 7/07
08. Shilts, Head Boppin’ , Firestone Vineyards, 5/07
07. Michael Lington, A Song For You, Rodney Strong Vineyards, 3/07
06. Marion Meadows, Players Club, Steltzer Vineyards, 1/07*
05. Randy Singer, Harmonica Dreams, Marilyn Remark Winery, 11/06*
04. Loren Gold, Keys, Orfila Vineyards, 9/06*
03. Mindi Abair, Life Less Ordinary, Wilson Creek Winery, 7/06*
02. A. Ray Fuller, The Weeper, Gainey Vineyard, 5/06*
01. Jimmy Reed, For The Family, Irish Vineyards, 3/06*

* Although individual cd’s of these artist are available, these Wine and Jazz packages are sold out.

waj_shipment10.jpgWhat is The Wine and Jazz Experience?

  • High quality wine and smooth jazz music are paired to create a unique experience.

  • Each shipment is elegantly packaged with two bottles of wine, two winery logo glasses, one smooth jazz CD, and one specially-minted, limited numbered commemorative Wine and Jazz collector coin.

  • Vintners from each winery include messages, promotions, and special insights for their winery.

  • Featured smooth jazz musicians include letters and autographed photographs

  • Shipped to your home or office every other month.

  • Complimentary Smooth Jazz News Magazine

Each Wine and Jazz package is only $99, plus shipping and handling. Members are automatically billed and shipped to every two months (Six times a year). And individual orders and gift packages are also available.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Here’s the scoop on the next two Wine and Jazz packages and signings:

PeterWhiteChristmasGroup.jpgIn November, Wine and Jazz presents a special Holiday Wine and Jazz Package with smooth jazz artists Peter White, Rick Braun & Mindi Abair, featuring:

  • The upcoming “A Peter WHITE CHRISTMAS” CD, with Peter White, Rick Braun & Mindi Abair, released by ARTizen Music Group (www.ARTizenmusic.com)

  • 2 bottles of specially selected wine

  • A special White, Braun & Abair Holiday Wine Glass,

  • A Commemorative Wine and Jazz Collector’s Coin

WarrenHill_Spaghettini.jpgJoin White, Braun & Abair for a special Wine and Jazz Autograph Session:

When: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Where: Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club
3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Time: 11:00 – 3:00 pm - Reservations are highly recommended.

Also, note: In January 2008 the Wine and Jazz Experience will feature Euge Groove. In celebration, there will be a Wine and Jazz Autograph Session at a TBD date.

Brunch6.jpgThese Wine and Jazz Autograph Sessions are held during Spaghettini’s (known by the locals as “Spags”) highly popular Smooth Jazz Sunday Champagne Brunch. The White, Braun & Abair (and Euge Groove) events are sure to sell out well in advance. Make your reservations early……or you’ll miss out!

With a well-crafted and easy to navigate site, www.wineandjazz.com features wine and jazz packages, a smooth jazz store that sells cd’s for $11.98 or less, wine accessories, women’s and men’s apparel and artwork by noted artist Bettie Grace Miner (www.MinerWorksofArt.com) . WineandJazz.com also has an extensive listing of wineries, concerts, festivals, cruises, wine tastings and related events.

Don’t forget that the reasonably priced Wine and Jazz Experience makes the perfect gift for the holiday season or a special occasion gift for the smooth jazz fan.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:18 AM

September 14, 2007

The Great Escape: A Guide To The 21st Catalina Jazz Festival: Two Decade Anniversary 1987- 2007

Welcome-To-Catalina-Sign.jpgWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

The Catalina Jazz Festival
Oct. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 2007
Santa Catalina Island, CA

It’s easy to see why thousands continue to make the annual pilgrimage to the Catalina JazzTrax Festival on Santa Catalina Island, (usually called Catalina), just off the Southern California coastline. Definitely one of the top 10 smooth jazz festival destinations in the US, The Catalina Jazz Festival, produced by Art Good of JazzTrax, offers unparallel music, ambiance and amenities.

With sixteen days of music, thirty musicians, beautiful beachfront and mountain views, idyllic weather, shops, restaurants, and activities within short walking distance….what’s not to love? Travelers to JazzTrax can tailor their experience to fit their schedules, whether they travel to Catalina for one day, one weekend or consume the full 3-weekend series.

Casino-Ballroom.jpgThe Music:
• Three, 3-day week-ends of music: Oct. 5-7, Oct. 12-14, Oct. 19-21
• Bonus Thursday night unplugged sessions: Oct. 4, 11, 12

The Line-Up: Thursday Night Unplugged Performances
• Oct. 4 – Ray Parker, Jr., Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour
• Oct. 11 – Mindi Abair, Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour
• Oct. 18 – Peter White, Full B-B-Q Dinner & Bar, & Fri. morning secret tour

The Line-Up: First Weekend, Oct. 5-7
• Oct. 5 – Paul Brown, Marion Meadows
• Oct. 6 – Jesse Jay, Nick Colionne, Nils, Candy Dulfur• Oct. 7 - Lao Tizer, David Pack, Four 80 East, Mindi Abair

The Line-Up: Second Weekend, Oct. 12-14
• Oct. 12 – Steve Oliver, Kyle Eastwood
• Oct. 13 – Jackiem Joyner, Ray Parker, Jr., Michael Lington, Lee Ritenour w/Patrice Rushen
• Oct. 14 - Oli Silk, Marion Meadows, Jesse Jay, Jazz Attack (Richard Elliott, Peter White & Rick Braun)

The Line-Up: Third Weekend, Oct. 19-21
• Oct. 19 – Lao Tizer, Tim Bowman
• Oct. 20 – Jackiem Joyner, Pieces of A Dream, Greg Karukas, Kirk Whalum
• Oct. 21 – U-Nam, Paul Jackson, Jr., Jesse Jay, Norman Brown’s Summer Storm (Norman Brown, Jeff Lorber, Marion Meadows, Peabo Bryson)

The Time:
• Thursday night unplugged shows start at 8:00 (bus transportation leaves at 4:45 pm)
• Friday shows begin at 7:30 pm
• Sat. & Sun. afternoon shows are at Noon & 2:00 pm
• Sat. & Sun. evening shows are at 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

Catalina-and-boats.jpgOn weekends, there’s plenty of time before shows to have a leisurely breakfast, jog up the mountain, stroll on the beach, meet friends at the Café for espresso or just sleep in.

Then there’s ample time between the afternoon & evening shows to shop the shops, have a sumptuous evening dinner, and cocktails before heading back to the Casino for the last two shows.

The Pricing:
• Unplugged Thursday nights: $125 - $155, includes a scenic bus tour to and from Wrigley’s Ranch, special under the stars unplugged performance, dinner, & secret casino tour on Friday morning.
• First, Second or Third Week-End Series, 3-days, 10-performances on Fri., Sat. & Sun.: $119.50 - $315.00.
• Single Performances: $25.00 - $75.00, depending on seating, and day & time of performance.

The Ticketing:
• Simple, by phone: 1.866.872.9849
• Convenient on-line, see & pick your own seats: www.jazztrax.com

The Location:
• Idyllic Catalina Island, 26 miles off the coast of So Cal, with mild weather, averaging between 70 – 85° during the day, with cool ocean breezes and 60 – 75° during the night.

The Music Venues:
• The Historic Wrigley Casino Ballroom
• Wrigley’s Ranch - home of the special Thursday night Unplugged Performances

The Transportation:
• Getting To & From Catalina: Ferry, Helicopter, Private Boat or Yacht

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Save time & insure you get the time reservation you want by reserving your roundtrip ferry ride in advance at www.catalinaexpress.com or call 1.866.872.9849. Catalina Express offers 1-hour transportation from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point, CA and offers late night service to select ports during the Festival.

• Getting Around on Catalina: By foot, bicycle or golf cart rental, or Taxi

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Getting around is really easy since downtown Catalina is only 1 square mile and everything is in walking distance. For those with physical disabilities, there are two shuttle lines, one of which will take you from the center of town to the Casino for about $2. Also, Taxi’s charges by the trip, not by the passenger so grab a few friends and pay a flat rate.

Catalina-Hillside.jpgThe Accommodations:
• All unique boutique hotels, no chains here
• Rent a room for one, a cottage for two or a villa for 4 or more

The Jazz Gypsy Tip:
• Avalon Hotels Offer Thursday Discounted Rooms to Get You in a Night Early For Unplugged Under the Stars at Wrigley Ranch:

Catalina Island Inn
Guests attending Thursday Nights ‘Unplugged at the Wrigley Ranch" can ask for a 50% discount on that night’s hotel accommodations. Also offering a 25% discount for "One Night" hotel reservations each Sunday Night of each JazzTrax Festival Weekend. Call for reservations 1 (800)246-8134…….or 1(310) 510-1623

Pavilion Lodge and Hotel Atwater
Save 50% on Thursday Night Rooms if you stay Friday & Saturday Nights. Book On-Line
Or Call 1-800-626-1496

Seaport Village Inn
Book 3 Nights Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Any of the 3 JazzTrax Festival Weekends and get a Thursday Night room FREE, including hot breakfast. Spend 5 days and 4 nights during JazzTrax at Seaport Village Inn, starting at $359 per person (plus tax) including room with a view, roundtrip boat fare, shuttle to hotel, Champagne, and Hot Breakfast. Must reference September JazzTrax E-Mail Alert and call Reservations Staff 800-2 CATALINA 800-222-8254 or 310-510-0344. Not available when booking on-line.

Hamilton Cove Villas
Includes free golf cart with Villa. Ask about possible Thursday night discount on your Villa Rental. Each Condo has Individual Owners. If you have Friday, Saturday, Sunday hotel reservations already at a different hotel, you might ask if they’ll offer a Thursday Night discount for you.

The Dining:
• Beachfront Cafes, Waterfront restaurants offering countless dining options
• Get the freshest seafood, straight from the ocean that’s at your feet

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Although restaurant prices are very reasonable, if you’re staying on the island for at least a weekend, consider shopping for beverages, snacks and light food fare at the local Vons Market on Metropole Avenue, since most hotel rooms have a small fridge and microwave.

Shopping-Area-at-Catalina.jpgThe Activities (besides the Festival):
• Shopping: Unique, one-of-a-kind stores, not your usual tourist trap shops.
• Sports: Golf, Tennis, Bike Riding, Kayaking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Horseback Riding, Parasailing
• Island Tours and Excursions
• Spa Treatments

On a budget? Not to worry. You can enjoy the Catalina JazzTrax experience for less than $100. Here’s how:
• Save on the parking fee at the Catalina Express Terminal by either having a friend drop you off and pick you up from the Terminal or carpool with friends and split the parking fee.
• Check the Catalina Express website (www.catalinaexpress.com) for discount coupons.
• Pack a picnic lunch in a small collapsible cooler to enjoy while on the ferry ride over to the Island or arrive early and have a picnic on the beach. (All food and beverages must be consumed before the show, since no outside food or drinks are allowed in the Casino Ballroom.)
• Purchase the most inexpensive seat, since every seat in the ballroom offers a great view.

Want to splurge? There’s plenty of opportunities for that. Here’s how:
• Arrive by private plane, yacht or helicopter.
• Rent a villa for three weeks.
• Indulge yourself daily with golf, and spa treatments.
• Purchase the best seats available for all 33 JazzTrax shows and the Wine Maker Dinners at the Country Club.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: The “Catalina Insiders” maximize their experience at the Festival by enjoying the “bonus” JazzTrax activities:
• Thursday Night - Unplugged Performances Under the Stars at the Wrigley Ranch
• Saturday Late Afternoon - Wine Maker Dinners at the Country Club
• Each Saturday Night – FREE After Party on the Beach at Descanso
• Each Sunday Night - FREE After Parties at the Landing Courtyard

Useful websites:
Festival Information: www.jazztrax.com

Catalina Island Info: www.catalinachamber.com
Interactive Catalina Street Map: www.catalinaclickmap.com/clickmap/clickmap.htm
Historical Information about Catalina Island: www.answers.com/topic/santa-catalina-island-california

Special Hotel Discounts: www.jazztrax.com/jazz/catalina.html#Anchor-Avalon-10518
Transportation by Ferry: www.catalinaexpress.com

Posted by JazzGypsy at 6:06 PM

September 10, 2007

Making Music That Matters: Artists 4 Children, A Benefit Wine & Jazz Series

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

September 14, 21 & 28, 2007
Imagine That,
Upland, CA

Noted R&B guitarist Ray Fuller, who served as music director for superstars Whitney Houston and Anita Baker, and LA’s, 94.7 the Wave's Hugh Fuller will host a roster of celebrated artists in an effort to raise critically needed funds for the Weeper's Friends Foundation's after school program with the YMCA to bring creative arts to at-risk and underprivileged children.

Fri., Sept. 14 – Everette Harp, Frank McComb
Fri., Sept. 21 – Yellow Jackets, featuring Eric Marenthal; Jeff Lorber; Marilyn Scott
Fri., Sept. 28 – Pete Escovedo’s Latin Orchestra & Chielli Minucci

VIP and General Admission seating is available as well as discounts for couples and multi-date concert purchases. VIP admission includes early entry at 6:00 pm, a Q & A mixer with the Artists and dinner.

"Artist4Children is a worth while event that should be supported", says Fuller, who is a long-time supporter of children that have been placed at-risk. "It showcases artists and patrons whose hearts are in the right place and are doing the right thing with their time, talent and treasure."

Weeper's Friends Foundation is a 501(c)(3), 509(a)(1), organization under the National Heritage Foundation. The charitable scope of their work is to nurture gifted and talented artists and encourage them to support children’s causes as they achieve success.

For sponsorship information, ticket prices, and artists updates go to ww.weepersfriends.org or call Michelle at 909.581.1155.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: We will not be remembered for what we got but rather for what we gave in life.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 10:13 PM

September 9, 2007

T.O.P. Tops the List of Artists on the Dave Koz & Friends @ Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise

thumb_DKLogo.gifWritten by The Jazz Gypsy

November 4-11, 2007
Dave Koz & Friends At Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise
Holland America m/s Westerdam

The legendary rhythm, blues, soul & funk Tower of Power Band has just been added to the list of artists appearing on the 3rd sailing of the Dave Koz & Friends at Sea Smooth Jazz Cruise, according to Michael Lazaroff, Executive Producer of Jazz Cruises, LLC.

Set to sail on November 4, 2007 from Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Half Moon Cay, over 1,000 smooth jazz fans will begin a 7-day voyage at sea with some of the top names in the industry: Dave Koz, Greg Adams, Gerald Albright, Marc Antoine, David Benoit, Norman Brown, Peabo Bryson, Jonathan Butler, Eric Darius, Richard Elliott, Jeff Lorber, Keiko Matsui, Chris Stranding, Jody Whatley, special guests, Sypro Gyra, and now Tower of Power. Rounding out the entertainment is comedian Alonzo Bolden and Southern California’s favorite DJ, Jonathan Phillips from Sound Familiar Events.

Special cabin pricing is now available for the less than 50 cabins remaining.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 5:22 PM

Nancy Wilson Turns 70 and Completely Flips the Script!

Written by The Jazz Gypsy

Wednesday, August 29, 20007, 8:00 pm
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA

There are certain expectations that we have about life. In one fell swoop, Nancy Wilson destroyed all those notions about aging, beauty, divas, birthdays and more.

Last night, at the Hollywood Bowl, Wilson appeared on stage to celebrate her 70th birthday in sheer perfection. Everything about her (and the evening for that matter), from the superficial to the deep and complex, was perfect: her hair, her wardrobe, her make-up, her charm, her cadence, her stride, her smile, her voice, her band, her selection of songs, the brief stories she told, her spontaneous laughter during a song, and all her friends who performed were all perfect.

At 70, that is not our expectation. Where were the wrinkles….at least one? Where was the little tell-tell signs that she’d let herself go….just a little? Where was the person who had to help her across the stage? Where were the cracks in her voice indicating she’d lost a bit of her trademark sound? And, at the very least, where was the traditional birthday song, the candles, the cake and the gifts for the birthday girl?

There was none of that. At 70, celebrating her birthday in grand style and high fashion, Wilson completely flipped the script. Instead of receiving gifts, Wilson showered the near-capacity crowd with gifts far that went far beyond her awesome vocal talent. Wilson showed us that at 70:
• Class never goes out of style
• You ARE defined by your friends, choose wisely
• Make good career choices early and stay the path
• Grace is sexy
• You can still be the most beautiful woman in the room, even in a crowd of 18,000 people
• Living well is not only is the best revenge but it also looks damn good too!
• A true Diva is one someone who not only starts at the top of her game but someone that remains there.

Wilson’s celebration included an impressive list of extraordinary artists who were at times accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl’s Big Band (HBBB). Because all the performances were phenomenal, there is no way I can comment on each and keep this article under a zillion words. This is one of those times when the saying, “You had to have been there” is most appropriate. Therefore, the next best thing I can suggest is that you purchase the complete discography of each of the artists below. Here are the songs they performed last night:

Ernie Andrews & HBBB – “From This Moment On”, “You Are So Beautiful”
Regina Carter – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”
Nnenna Freelon & HBBB – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, “If I Had You”
Kurt Elling & HBBB – “Close Your Eyes”, “My Foolish Heart”
Patti Austin & HBBB – “Stairway to Paradise”, “Lady Be Good”
Nancy Wilson, Terence Blanchard & Tom Scott – “Save Your Love For Me”, “Masquerade”
Nancy Wilson & James Ingram – “Wish You Were Here”
James Ingram & HBBB – “100 Ways”
Ramsey Lewis Trio – “To Know Her Is To Love Her”, “Sun Goddess”
Nancy Wilson & Ramsey Lewis – “God Bless the Child”
Natalie Cole & HBBB – “I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life”, “Let There Be Love”
Nancy Wilson & HBBB – “It Don’t Mean A Thing”, “Guess Who I Saw Today”, & A Medley of Wilson’s Hits: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, “Save Your Love For Me”, “How Glad I Am”, “When Did You Leave Heaven”, “I’ve Never Been to Me”, “Face it Girl”, “This Masquerade Is Over”, “You Can Have Him”, “The Greatest Performance of My Life”, “Day in, Day Out”.

Arsenio Hall, who was discovered by Nancy Wilson, hosted this celebration.

Nancy Wilson Trio: Llew Matthews, piano; Roy McCurdy, drums; John Belzaguy, bass
Ramsey Lewis Trio: Ramsey Lewis Jr., piano; Larry Gray, bass; Leon Joyce, Jr., drums

Hollywood Bowl Big Band (HBBB): Llew Matthews, Conductor/Musical Director; Trumpets: Wayne Bergerson, principal; Bob Summers, Bijon Watson, Sal Cracchiolo; Trombones: Andy Martin, Principal; George Bohanon, Scott Whitfield; Bass Trombone: Craig Gosnell; Alto Saxophones: Lanny Morgan, Keith Fiddmont; Tenor Saxophones: Rickey Woodard, Tom Peterson; Baritone Saxophone: Tom Scott; Piano: Llew Matthews; Drums: Roy McCurdy; Bass: John Belzaguy; Orchestra Contractor: Brian Miller.

As a writer I know there are certain words you should use sparingly, like the words “perfect” and “legend”. Having said that, I will conclude that Nancy Wilson’s 70th Birthday Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl showcased a legend, performing at a legendary venue with legends that was just perfect.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: To experience perfection, you have to be in the room. Nancy Wilson’s 2007/2008 performance schedule follows. ‘Nuf said.

11/02 - Hyatt Regency, Chicago, IL, (Ticket info: Akiba Bookstore, 1.888.962.5660 x 331)
11/17 - Lyric Theatre, Baltimore, MD.

2008 – Upcoming, check each venue for updates & more information
2/15-16 – South East Symphony, Los Angeles
3/14 – McCallum Theatre, Palm Dessert, CA w/Michael Feinstein
3/28 – Berks Jazz Festival, Reading, PA
4/05 – Cannon Center, Memphis, TN
4/19 – Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
5/4 – Melbourne Jazz Festival, Melbourne, Australia

Posted by JazzGypsy at 4:07 PM

September 8, 2007

Get Out Your Pearls & Little Black Dress: Smooth Jazz Gets All Dressed Up And Has Someplace To Go

Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Pictures by Michelle Wong

PeterWhite_MW.jpgMercedes-Benz (MB) of Laguna Niguel in Southern California was the proud co-presenter and home of 2007 The Taste of Laguna Niguel on Friday, August 24, 2007. Where else would Orange Country’s (OC) well-heeled and cultured crowd feel more at home than at one of the largest MB dealerships in the nation that has an inventory of over 1,600 new and pre-owned vehicles?

Billed as an evening of fine jazz, fine wine and fine food, the event kept their promise. The evening began at 5:00 pm with free valet parking. The registration tables where guests received a program, Passport to the World of Taste, plate, and wine glass were strategically placed in the lobby where guests had to walk through an immaculate showroom displaying glistening new and vintage Mercedes’ en route to the tastings. The showroom also had a parts department that was open for business that looked more like fine men’s clothing store with a million dollar inventory of MB gifts, accessories and parts. The two chocolate and wine bars located on the showroom floor kept patrons returning to be within close proximity of the newest MB C-Class Models displayed in the showroom with eager salesmen nearby.

MichaelPaulo_MW.jpgOutside and beneath the warm California evening air, linen covered tables were placed before a large stage. Food stations lined the perimeter and beverage bars were dotted throughout the courtyard. A separate VIP room offering fine wine, Champaign, chocolates and gift bags from Saks Fifth Avenue was also on the grounds.

Since this was a tasting, I must comment on the food. It was simply to die for. Several of my favorite items included grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon, shrimp & crab risotto served on puff pastry, and the roast beef with gravy & mashed potatoes served in martini glasses with a sprig of rosemary. The Ritz-Carlton Eno Bar, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Salt Creek Grille, Savannah Steak and Chop House, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café & Emporium, White Horses, Maestro’s Ocean Club, Nirvana Grille, Javier’s, Infusion, Bristol Farms, Chaparosa Grille and Splashes Restaurant were the featured restaurants.

Providing a perfect pairing for the delectable edibles, California Taste Fine Wine, From the Vine Wine Boutique, Gioia Luisa America, Inc., Nolet Spirits USA/Ketel One Vodka, PRP Wine, Salt Creek Wine Company, Wilson Creek Winery and Wine Pavilion provided free-flowing beverages.

WhitePaulo_MW.jpgRounding out the evening was the music from the surprise smooth jazz artist, Peter White. Appearing with band members Donald Patterson on bass, Kimo Cornwell (of Hiroshima) on Keyboards and La Mont Peoples, Drums, White’s extended set included more than a dozen songs which were all crowd pleasers: "Talkin’ About Love", a Mr. Magic medley including "What Does It Take" (To Win Your Love), "Who’s That Lady", "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"; "Heart & Soul"; "Bueno Funk"; "My Prayer"; "Midnight in Manhattan"; "Hit the Road Jack"; "The Closer I Get to You"; "San Diego"; "Millennium Funk"; and "What’s Going On".

White, who was joined by saxophonists Michael Paulo and up and coming, 19-year old Shannon Kennedy, kept the patrons dancing on both the fast and funky tunes as well as the slow, romantic songs. Who knew the OC could “boogey uggie uggie” to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"? Even White and Paulo boogied across the stage and each, at different times, fell to their knees, adding drama to their solo presentations.

PeterWhite2_MW.jpgEarlier in the evening, Actor Richard Burgi, who plays the character “Karl Mayer” on the popular, Emmy award winning Desperate Housewives ABC TV series, shared his thoughts on “Fine Tastes for Fine Causes” and introduced the event’s Official Spotlight Charity, Beta Foster Care, and the events’ co-Sponsor, The Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce.

Sponsors and local radio station Jazz! FM 88.5, KSBR, broadcasted live from 5 pm – 8 pm. KSBR is a state-of-the-art broadcast facility that reaches approximately 35,000 south OC listeners with a highly successful contemporary jazz format.

KSBR is also widely known and supported by many smooth jazz artists and the OC community during their annual KSBR Birthday Bash that is always held on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend. This year, over 30 artists participated in the Bash. Performers listed by instruments were: Sax: Greg Vail, Michael Paulo, Jackiem Joyner; Keyboard: Brian Simpson, Dan Siegel, Rob Whitlock; Guitar: Nils, Chuck Loeb, David Boswell, Ray Fuller, Peter White; Percussion: Mombo Hernandez, Rafael Feliciano, Johnny Blas, Bass: Michael Manson, Max Bennett, Brian Bromberg, Melvin Davis, David Levray, Tony Guerrero, Greg Adams, Joey Sellers, Drums: Evan Stone, Steve Ferrone, Nathan Scott, Donnel Spencer; Vocals: Bill Cantos, Kelly Sweet, David Pack, Sara Gazarek; and Band: Hiroshima kicked off the event with the first two songs.

The Taste of Laguna Niguel seemed to be a huge success. It ended with smiling guests receiving beautiful black paper gift bags embossed with the words “Mercedes Benz” filled with bright orange crepe paper poking out of the tops and many wonderful treats inside.

The Jazz Gypsy Tip: When attending a “taste of”, invite a designated driver so you can indulge in the liquor responsibly.

Posted by JazzGypsy at 3:32 PM