Set List Bonus: 35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival, Day One
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Lisa Goich-Andreadis
As the circular Hollywood Bowl stage made its first rotation on June 15, signaling the beginning of the 35th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival, hardcore jazz fans filed in carrying their requisite coolers full of barbecue, baked goods and thirst-quenchers. With a crowd of nearly 20,000 that included a bevy of Playboy bunnies and Hugh Hefner himself, day one of the two-day festival brought collaborations galore for, arguably, one of the best days in the festival's 35-year history.
Kicking off Saturday's festivities was GRAMMY-nominated comedian George Lopez, who took over the master of ceremonies reins from 30-year veteran Bill Cosby. Lopez's maiden voyage would have made Cosby proud.
The Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble hit the day's first notes, directed by Jason Goldman. It's always a treat to see young musicians embrace the classic jazz canon, and the students did a stellar job soaring through songs such as Duke Ellington's "Cotton Tail."
Bringing some Afro-Cuban love to the stage was the Pedrito Martinez Group featuring pianist/vocalist Ariacne Trujillo. Martinez, a Cuban-born monster percussionist, played like he had five hands as he bobbed and weaved his way through gems such as David Calzado's "Ay! Ay Amor" and Tirso Duarte's "La Luna." Trujillo performed a beautiful version of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There."
The Grace Kelly Quintet made their Playboy Jazz Festival debut, led by saxist Kelly, who at 21, is likely one of the youngest artists to perform at the festival. Trading riffs with Kelly was her mentor, sax legend and four-time GRAMMY winner Phil Woods.
Past GRAMMY nominee Gregory Porter, who was dapperly dressed in a pressed white suit jacket and red bow tie, had the crowd swaying to his smooth vocals on songs such as "On My Way To Harlem," "Be Good" and the GRAMMY-nominated R&B-infused track "Real Good Hands."
Taking the energy up a notch was the GRAMMY-winning Robert Glasper Experiment. Blending jazz, R&B and hip-hop, Glasper and his band, featuring lead vocalist Casey Benjamin, had the crowd on its feet with covers of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The highlight of the set was an appearance by special guest Dianne Reeves for a sweet version of "Afro Blue."
Few remained seated during GRAMMY winner Angelique Kidjo's set featuring trumpet great Hugh Masekela, who joined for a performance of "Pata Pata" and the crowd-favorite "Afirika." Hands swayed in the air for the entire 45-minute set. GRAMMY winner Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band followed with special guest guitarist and fellow GRAMMY winner Lee Ritenour. One of the set's highlights was a special appearance by "The Voice" contestant Judith Hill, who sang her own composition, "Party Rockers."
A cappella group Naturally 7 were joined by GRAMMY-winning legend Herbie Hancock and left the crowd in awe with their unique "vocal play" styling on songs such as "Ready Or Not" and "Wall Of Sound."
Virtuoso saxophonist James Carter teamed with legendary GRAMMY-winning conguero Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Big Band for a true Latin jazz feast, performing covers of Ellington's "The Feeling Of Jazz" and a conga-driven version of Hancock's "Watermelon Man."
In the show's final performance of the day, Jeffrey Osborne took the stage and asked the crowd if there were "any L.T.D. fans in the house." It turns out there were. With GRAMMY winner George Duke on piano, the crowd sang along to songs such as "Sweet Baby," "Holding On (When Love Is Gone)," "Love Ballad," and "(Everytime I Turn Around) Back In Love Again," making for a jam-worthy ending to the festival's first day. With 18,000 voices belting out "Can You Woo Woo Woo?" — the funk was definitely in the house.
This was a Playboy Jazz Festival that won't quickly be forgotten.
(Lisa Goich-Andreadis, a Detroit native living in Los Angeles, manages the Jazz & Comedy Fields for The Recording Academy. She's currently working on a memoir titled 14 Daysand can be heard as a special guest on "The Mitch Albom Show" on WJR-AM in Detroit. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at www.lisagoich.com.)