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MALCOLM JAMAL WARNER performs at 2007 Playboy Jazz Fest
(Published: May 17, 2007)

MALCOLM JAMAL WARNER: Actor/musician joins 'Dad' Cosby at 2007 Playboy Jazz Fest.

The actor/director is a jazz fan with a new breed of jazz funk all his own, and though many recognize him as Theo Huxtable from the very popular ‘80s sitcom "The Cosby Show," Warner has split his career in entertainment to include being an up-and-coming musician.

Next month he reaches a milestone in his music career, reuniting with fest emcee Bill Cosby, as an opening act at the Playboy Jazz Fest at the Hollywood Bowl.

Warner has been working on his music with band Miles Long for approximately eight years; with no musical training, with the exception of short-lived piano lessons as a child.

"I started playing bass in '97, during the first season of ‘Malcolm & Eddie.' The show was stressing me out so badly that I decided I needed a hobby," he told EUR's Lee Bailey. "So I started playing music just as a hobby. I figured, directing started as a hobby and then became a career. When I picked up an instrument I thought it would just be a hobby; it would never become a career; I would never start a band; I would never record a CD or any of that stuff. And through the year's it has developed into what it is now."

Well, that's exactly what happened. Warner's second release, and first full disc "Love and Other Social Issues" will be available May 25. He dropped an EP in 2003 called "Miles Long." He also has a one-man show of the same name as the new disc that showcases his poetry. More info on that show, which opens June 2, can be found here: www.malcolmjamalwarner.com.

"I've been working on this CD for several years, but some of the pieces overlap with some of the pieces in the show," he said. "My one-man show, I started doing at the National Black Theater Festival in 2003. I'm really excited to bring it to L.A. It's a full on theatrical production. It's an interpretation of my poetry, but instead of me staring at a mic for an hour and a half, I have a lighting director and everything."

Malcolm is shown getting thoughts and fingers warmed up before a set (photo by Conrad Montgomery)

Newbie Warner makes no claims of being a true jazz head. Since he's only been dabbling in the genre for about ten years, he's created his own style of jazz he calls jazz funk.

"Because I'm not yet a jazz ‘straight-ahead' cat, ‘Miles Long' is a jazz-funk-spoken word band because I'm also a poet. There's a lot of poetry in our set," he said. "A lot of the pieces are played with very much a jazz approach to the kind of music we play in terms of improv-ing inside the confines of a set variable."

But why not R&B or hip-hop?

I'm not a singer, and I'm not a rapper," Warner said plainly. "Because I have grown up as part of the hip-hop community, there is definitely a hip-hop edge to the music, but because I've been raised on jazz and a lot of the guys I play with are jazz cats, I was very clear that I wanted something that was outside of that box. And I didn't want to be in that neo-soul vibe. So, when I started creating the music, because it was just my own thing, I wanted to create something new that didn't have to fit into a category because I was doing it for fun. It developed into something that I'm so proud of and something that's very viable and necessary in music today"

Furthermore, Warner described his style as a genre for Generation X, somewhere between real hip-hop and heavy jazz.

"For those of us who have grown up on hip-hop, yet hip-hop no longer speaks to us," he said of his target audience, "but we're not necessarily into straight jazz just yet - I think we're a good medium. There are a lot of people in my age range for whom jazz is still a little too heady. Our music is a little more acceptable for those who want to mature from hip-hop, but still want to bob their heads."

Warner and his Miles Long band will do a 30-minute set to open Sunday's show at the Playboy Jazz Fest. The 2007 edition takes place June 16 and 17 at the Hollywood Bowl. The fest also features Buddy Guy, Chris Botti, and others on Saturday and Etta James, Dianne Reeves, Arturo Sandoval, Marcus Miller on Sunday.

I'm excited about it," he said. "Because of the vibe that we have, I think we are good band to set the show off. It's exciting to tell people we're actually playing this year. I think we can set the show off with some hot grooves."

For more on Malcolm Jamal Warner, his new disc, his one man show and his role in the upcoming film "Fool's Gold," go to his site at www.malcolmjamalwarner.com. For more the festival, check www.playboyjazz.com.

More Information: http://www.malcolmjamalwarner.com

Submitted By: jazzears

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