Shawn Amose performs in front of the Rave Theaters
Ramsey Lewis jams with his band on the piano during the BHCP Live!
Photos by Troy Tieuel
High quality stage and top notch talent turn the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza into a Jazz Festival.
In an attempt to change the image of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (BHCP), Jason Lombard, Community Outreach/Media Relations Director of the BHCP has sent the BHCP through a series of changes and upgrades that began with cosmetic enhancements, such as the Wal-Mart remodeling, the Rave Theater upgrades as well as the addition of high end franchises like Post & Beam Restaurant and is continuing with their latest undertaking, the BHCP Live! Free Summer Concert Series on the BHCP Promenade. This latest concert featured Jazz piano legend, Ramsey Lewis. Former concerts have featured acts such as Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and Stephaney Mills.
Located between the Rave Theater and the BHCP parking structure, the Promenade has plenty of space for a good sized stage that can hold a full band and have room for performers to stand and sing. Professional lighting flashed and rotated casting interesting colored glows to the performers. Seating consisted of a VIP section that sat merely from the edge of the stage, and a general admission area that was packed all the way back to the Rave Theater with fold out chairs and concert goers camped out like a traditional jazz festival. Although the Promenade was full, concert attendees did not block admission to the Rave Theater, the BHCP parking structure or the South entrance to the BHCP adjacent to the food court. Quality sound left spectators with no complaints, and those spectators left no seat empty.
A gorgeous blue sky rested above the Crenshaw area on a pleasant 72 degree Thursday.
Opening the show was singer and producer Shawn Amose, who impressed the crowd with antics that included several trips off stage to walk amongst the crowd and a fainting scene in which he appeared exhausted and unable to go on. He was helped up by his band mates and continued to sing. Amose's song selection featured a blend of covers of classic blues legends, B.B. King and Muddy Watters along with his original songs. His rendition of Muddy Water's, "M.A.N.," caused spectators to sing along. Jumping off the stage, Amose strolled through the crowd, not missing a note as his band jammed on stage.
The headliner of the show, Ramsey Lewis, a well-known jazz pianist and producer, graced the stage with his laid back style and cool demeanor that translated well into his musical style that combines Jazz Funk with Old Negro Spirituals. Lewis, who in his day, worked with Rhythm and Blues band, Earth Wind and Fire, played several of the hits he penned for them including tracks from Earth Wind and Fire's, "Sun Goddess" album.
Warming up with slow jazzy ballads, Lewisí second half consisted of up-beat selections that energized the crowd with "Wade in the Water."
Future concerts at the BHCP Live! Free Concert Series include the Nick Cannon Backpack Give Away Event August 17 and a Tank concert on August 25.
For more information about the BHCP Live! Free Concert Series or other events at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, go to www.baldwinhillscrenshawplaza.com.