Norman Brown Kicks-off Three-day Tribute to Wayman Tisdale At 22nd Long Beach Jazz Festival
By Lela Ward Oliver
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Grammy-Award winner Norman Brown makes being a consummate jazz artist and trailblazer look easy. A leader of the smooth jazz movement, Brown has been at the forefront of this genre despite the naysayers and haters who questioned validity of the medium, he has forged a path to being a force to be reckoned with both musically and professionally.
Since the release of his critically acclaimed 2002 album, Just Chillin’ – which won a Grammy(r) in the prestigious Best Pop Instrumental Category – this innovative and original guitarist has been front and center in the fast evolving fusion of pop, R&B and jazz, attracting fans from as far away as South Africa to those who anxiously awaiting his appearance at the 22nd Long Beach Jazz Festival, this Friday, August 7, 2009, 7:00 p.m. at the Rainbow Lagoon, Shoreline Drive at Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, California 90802
Over the course of five landmark releases and a virtually constant itinerary of international touring, this gifted and gloriously versatile guitarist and vocalist has established himself in his own right. Brown will play a significant role in joining Beach Long Beach Jazz Festival founder Al Williams and the festival’s producers, Rainbow Promotions, in what was supposed to be a triumphant return of a 10-year veteran of the festival that regrettably turned into a three-day special tribute of his musical legacy.
The Shreveport, Louisiana native learned early in life that he could do almost anything he set out to do, despite being faced with faced with what seems insurmountable obstacles.
Brown’s schedule would overwhelm most–whether in or out of the entertainment business. For the last five years, his schedule has included a widely-successful Summer Storm Tour featuring such notable talents as Peabo Bryson, Najee, Brenda Russell and Everette Harp, a weekly two-hour syndicated radio show, performances on a jazz cruise that is already booked for 2010 and taking reservations for 2011. Earlier this year, the debut artist of Motown’s Morass label, earlier this year he completed a cover of an anxiously-awaited duet with mentor George Benson of the 2000 United We Funk pop-funk hit Nuthin But a Party, is scheduled for release later this year.
“Early in my career I took a lot of hits accused of being a George Benson wannabe, “If I was just that, why would he invite me to perform with him on a project that means so much to him?” Brown noted with his classic broad smile.
This year seemed so favorably linked with universe, the duet with Benson, plans for his own upcoming album with his label Peak Records were shaping up and 2009 Summer Storm Tour was going to be the icing on the cake of a great year with the re-teaming of his former MoJazz label mate and former NBA star Wayman Tisdale, who was excited about going on tour following the amputation of a portion of his leg in a two-year battle with bone cancer.
“We were both excited, we talked we modifications made to make navigation easier for him on and off stage. He was pumped and so was I,” Brown stated. Four days later, on May 15, Tisdale was gone.
“I didn’t have time for the thought of losing a friend and colleague of over two decades, to sink in before the promoters were calling worried about the impact Wayman’s passing would have on their booked dates,” Brown admitted.
A testament to being a respected person in the music business, noted artists such as vocalists Phil Perry and Patti Austin and saxophonist Eric Darius stepped in without hesitation to help Brown fill the void.
Al Williams, legendary jazz drummer and founder of the Long Beach Jazz Festival will pay a special tribute to Tisdale, “Gentle Giant of Smooth Jazz” by kicking-off the three-day festival with Brown headlining tomorrow night’s show. Brown ‘s Summer Storm will feature Patti Austin, Eric Darius, keyboardist Gail Jhonson (correct spelling). Friday night’s line-up also includes: David Sanborn and new artist Eldredge Jackson
On Saturday, Williams will be using this year’s festival as an opportunity to introduce new talent through “The Next Great Drummer.” As drummer to the stars, Eric Seats complete drummer auditions in his quest to find “The Next Great Drummer,” Seats and the LBJF will welcome the winners to their biggest audience to date.
The Three Day Lineup For This Year’s Festival Includes:
Friday, August 7:
Wayman Tisdale Tribute
Summer Storm featuring Norman Brown, Patti Austin, Eric Darius, Gail Jhonson
New Artist-Eldredge Jackson
Saturday, August 8:
Jazz Attack featuring Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler & Richard Elliot
Les McCann Swiss Movement featuring Javon Jackson
Clarence McDonald & Evolution
The Next Great Drummer Winners
Jazz Star Search Winner
Sunday, August 9:
Paul Brown & Marc Antoine
Al William Jazz Society featuring Barbara Morrison
Gates open at 5:00 pm, on Friday. Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions at (562) 424-0013 or online at www.longbeachjazzfestival.com. Ticket Prices Range from: VIP tickets – $155 on Friday and $180 per seat on Saturday and Sunday – which includes a three-course gourmet dinner, wine service and VIP hospitality. Ã¡ Reserved Box Seat tickets are $60 on Friday and $75 on Saturday and Sunday. General Admission/Lawn Seating is $45 in advance and $50 at the gate. Saturday and Sunday gates opens at 11:00 am with a show time of 12:00 pm.