Friday, October 20, 2017
“They came for Jazz”
By Michell D. Graham (Contributing Writer)
Published June 18, 2009

                                              Aaron Neville  
                                            Photo by Jason Lewis

                                                   Eric Darius 
                                                 Photo by Jason Lewis

                                     Phil Perry & Norman Brown (L-R)
                                            Photo by Jason Lewis 

I have always been somewhat leery of outdoor music venues as they have always been a gathering spot for the pretentious, as their small talk and laughter discounts the beauty of live instrumentation. I was especially leery because of the infamous L.A. crowd on this cloudy Saturday afternoon. But it was once explained to me, “Nothing comes between you and what you really want,” and as I looked out in the sea of over 18 thousand, it was made perfectly clear, they wanted Jazz, they came for Jazz. The dictionary defined jazz as popular music characterized by rhythms and improvisation. Be it those who had seat boxes a stone’s throw from the stage or those who sat bench on the last rows when the temperature dropped, they gathered for these rhythms and improvisations. Because Jazz has the miraculous ability to appeal to everyone individually, over 18,000 arrived to find their own voice in the music.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings brought their own energy and charisma as I can compare her sound to a Blues / Jazz-fusion. Raw and unadulterated. What made her so unique was the way her music related to all. It crossed barriers as the young appreciated her energy and the older crowd got a sense of who they very well can be, and that is zest, energy, and promise. She got a standing ovation and deservedly so. Norman Brown’s group of Jazz all Stars Summer Storm played tribute to Wayman Tisdale who before his untimely death in May was to play bass this year with the group. Eric Darius, saxophonist played Alicia Keys popular hit “If I don’t have you” which left the crowd in silence. The popular Phil Perry, who is now singer songwriter for the group, blessed the crowd with a falsetto which was a unique style very common in early 60’s R&B. Not only has the unique high pitched sound of the falsetto voice has yet to emerge, but it will rarely be heard against the passion and the skill of Summer Storm.

One of the many highlights of the show was the return of Kenny G, who has not performed at Playboy Jazz Fest in over 20 years. Well, it has been 75 million albums later and the crowd stayed to enjoy his tranquil hit “Forever n Love”. He played songs form his first Latlin CD “Rhythm & Romance” which will include a salsa, samba sound. Kenny G’s duet with Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World” alone was respectful and just. The video montage tribute left the crowd in silence as one has come to understand the full evolution of the Jazz sound and its birthplace of New Orleans.

 This was a surrounding of “Joe Everyday” Music along with sports has a way to bring people together. It was championship Sunday for the L.A. Lakers, but you would not have known, because as the temperature dropped and the sun went down, the crowd stayed for what they came for Jazz. A break from the everyday, to socialize, share and come together for tomorrow will always have its place. I got the feeling that I was amongst friends that I have yet to have met. I left knowing the name of the person next to me Andre S and his story, and you would have to because a concert is an experience and a Jazz concert is up for interpretation. We shared food and drink, and as the sun went down I shook his hand with the promise “I’ll see you again next year”.

Categories: Music

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