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30th Anniversay Playboy Jazz Festival
(Published: April 03, 2008)


Now in its 30th year, the Playboy Jazz Festival has evolved into an internationally acclaimed event and one of the premier jazz festivals on the west coast, attracting over 35,000 fans every year. Since its landmark first presentation in 1979 on a June weekend at the Hollywood Bowl, the Festival has featured the who's who of jazz, from legendary giants such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie, to the superstars of today like Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, George Benson, Dianne Reeves and so many more.
Today, celebrating 30 years of electrifying performances, magical moments and extraordinary music, Playboy will once again present a world class roster of talent at the 30th Anniversary Jazz Festival Saturday and Sunday, June 14th and 15th at the famous Hollywood Bowl.
Featuring renowned jazz greats, today's top talents, and popular festival favorites, the two day affair will showcase the many variations of jazz.
With an Oscar and 12 Grammy awards to his credit, Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern American music. His latest CD, River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to songwriter Joni Mitchell, just won the coveted 2008 Grammy for "Album of the Year," only the second jazz album to ever win the award. During his illustrious five decade career, Hancock has explored jazz, rock, soul and funk. A surefire festival favorite, he will return with acclaimed musicians, bassist David Holland, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, saxophonist Chris Potter, and guitarist Lionel Loueke. They will perform selections from The River, along with other material from his extensive repertoire.
An international star, Al Jarreau's unique vocal style is one of the world's great treasures. One of the only artists to have won a Grammy in all three categories of jazz, pop and R&B, his extensive catalog of platinum and gold albums includes the smash hit singles, "We're In This Love Together" and "Moonlighting," the theme song from the popular TV series. Returning for his fifth appearance, Jarreau will perform a variety of his favorite songs from three decades of albums, showcasing the innovative musical expressions that have made him one of the world's greatest song stylists.
Back by popular demand, singer-songwriter and blues guitarist, Keb' Mo' will be back with his distinctive brand of Delta Blues capturing the essence of America's music. The popular singer-songwriter has been on a roll these past few years, receiving his first gold album for his early Keb' Mo' project and a Grammy Award (his third overall) for "Best Contemporary Blues Album." A festival favorite, his performance will once again wow the crowd.
Returning to the Playboy stage for the third time, Grammy and Tony Award winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater is making her debut appearance at the Festival with a special group from Mali, including several musicians and singers that will perform music from her latest album RED EARTH - A Malian Journey. A colorful celebration of Bridgewater's cultural roots, the album and show blend Malian voices, music and traditional native instruments with American jazz, traversing the musical landscape. A versatile songstress, her jazz styles vary from scat to the hard tones of John Coltrane to the cool blues of Duke Ellington.
A master of Afro-Cuban rhythms, Grammy-winning Latin Jazz percussionist, Poncho Sanchez will return for what is sure to be another sizzling performance. Sanchez will be joined by special guest singer-songwriter Eddie Floyd, in a first time performance together. Known for his classic hit, "Knock on Wood," Floyd and Sanchez recently collaborated on Sanchez's new CD, featuring an updated version of the Floyd classic and other hits.
One of the most enduring figures in modern jazz, master saxophonist James Moody will make his long anticipated debut as the leader of his own group, having appeared previously at Playboy as a guest of Poncho Sanchez and Dizzy Gillespie. Best known for his signature composition, "Moody's Mood for Love," at 82 he still plays with the fluid expression that made him a titan in Dizzy Gillespie's All Star Band and one of the all time tenor sax greats.
Inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame earlier this year, the colorful Dr. John will be back with his eclectic New Orleans blues and boogie-woogie music. Best known for his hit song, "Right Place, Wrong Time," he continues to crisscross the country performing with his band the Lower 911, who will no doubt put on yet another rousing performance.
Often called "one of the world's greatest rhythm and blues bands," Tower of Power is sure to kick things up a notch with their signature horn driven sound and high energy performance, melding jazz, funk, rock and soul. Now experiencing a renaissance, the band continues to play to sell out crowds across the country. Fans are sure to enjoy the party when the group takes the stage for their second Festival appearance.
Two of the hottest superstars on today's contemporary jazz scene, Rick Braun (trumpet) and Richard Elliot (tenor sax), have come together to form R n R. Their namesake CD became an instant #1 hit upon its recent release and together they represent a cornerstone of the smooth jazz genre. Continuously playing to sold out crowds, their live performances percolate with spontaneity and their hallmark sound is sure to excite fans.
Also redefining the contemporary jazz scene is dazzling young pianist, Hiromi. Fronting her own group, she creates a new dimension of sound with her eclectic combination of traditional piano, bass and drums with jazz, rock, funk, and punk. Back by popular demand, her first CD mesmerized the jazz community and her previous performance at Playboy captivated the audience.
Voted one of the best Big Bands in the world by Downbeat, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra is making their Festival debut. Led by charismatic drummer Shari Maricle, the 15 woman ensemble swings with the best of them. Hard charging and forceful, the group exudes all the excitement of a historic big band, but with today's progressive sound and verve. Their highly anticipated performance is sure to be a highlight.
Returning as master of ceremonies for his 27th time, is jazz aficionado extraordinaire Bill Cosby, who will once again bring together his own group of veteran musicians. Featured in the Cos of Good Music X are: Monk Institute Trumpet Competition winner Ambrose Akinsuire, accomplished bassist Dwayne Burno, world class drummer and percussionist Ndugu Chancler, jazz pianist Benny Green, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, keyboardist Jerry Peters, and rhythm guitarist David T. Walker.
Making his Festival debut is 27 year old Robert Glasper, who articulates bold ideas about what a jazz piano trio can achieve. Not long after he arrived in New York, Ben Ratliff of the New York Times declared that Glasper's trio "deserves comparison with the best of the newer piano trios, those led by Jason Moran, Bill Charlap and Brad Mehldau." VIBE declared that Glaspar's "remarkable debut shows why cats from Mos Def to Roy Hargrove have sought him out - providing that subtlety and soul are natural allies."
Although Grammy winning trumpet great Roy Hargrove has performed at many previous Festivals, he will make his debut this year on Sunday's show, as the leader of the Roy Hargrove Big Band. Always seeking to find challenging and colorful ways to flex his musical chops, Hargrove has left his indelible imprint on a vast array of jazz genres, from Latin and be-bop to a jazz/hip-hop hybrid with his ensemble The RH Factor. His unique interpretations of music's many forms make him the ultimate ambassador of jazz.
Destined to be a great crowd pleaser is the latest lineup of the annual Guitars & Saxes tour, a staple of the smooth jazz genre every summer since 1995. Each a superstar in their own right, the 2008 ensemble features the perfect balance of urban and retro soul rhythms, blues rock and breezy, melodic guitar sounds by funky R&B-flavored saxophonist Gerald Albright; ultra-melodic British born acoustic guitarist Peter White; charismatic, blues-drenched electric guitarist Jeff Golub; and grooving Philly-bred keyboard whiz Jeff Lorber. The key to the success of the Guitars & Saxes Supergroup concept is their ever-rotating lineups, with each participant bringing their own unique vibe to the mix.
Veteran jazz drummer Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet presents an innovative way to hear the intriguing, classic music of Thelonious Monk. The Septet (four horns, guitar, bass, and drums) illuminates Monk's infamous melodies and harmonies with new clarity as horns and guitar share the responsibilities for Monk's own rhythmic and dynamic "comping" style. Their explosive 2006 debut on Concord Records includes fresh interpretations of eleven Monk compositions, eight of which originally appeared on three of the key recordings Riley made with the pianist. The septet includes Bruce Williams (alto and soprano sax), Wayne Escoffery (tenor and soprano), Jay Brandford (baritone), Freddie Bryant (guitar) and Koyoshi Kitagawa (bass).
One of Brazil's most recorded and best known composers, Grammy winning singer-songwriter Ivan Lins' eagerly awaited performance with fellow Brazilian legend, guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, will mark the pair's first performance together at Playboy. Over the course of his 35 year career, the Rio De Janeiro born Lins-whose hits include "Madalena" and the Grammy winning "Dinorah, Dinorah"-- has recorded 27 albums and brought his music to jazz and pop fans in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Japan.
Adding to the multicultural mix at this year's show is Plena Libre, a 13 member Afro-Rican group, founded by bassist Gary Nunez. Making their Festival debut, the group has become an ambassador for the new sounds of Puerto Rico, taking its updated blend of roots music to many parts of the world. Reclaiming the long-ignored Puerto Rican folkloric music derived from the 100 year old genre of Puerto Rican plená-a unique combination of rhythms and styles-Plena Libre has received many prestigious awards in their native Puerto Rico and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best Tropical Traditional Album for the group's eleventh release, 2005's Evolución.
Also making his debut will be 27 year old singer-songwriter Ryan Shaw. Nominated for a Grammy Award earlier this year for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "I Am Your Man" from his critically acclaimed 2007 debut album This Is Ryan Shaw, his repertoire blends powerful original contemporary R&B songs, classics and overlooked gems by legends like Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack. Out to revive the passion and soul of the Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues (1960-1972) for a new generation, he brings it all together with a combination of Southern warmth and New York vitality.
The Hamilton High School Academy of Music Jazz Ensemble "A" opens under the direction of Dan Taguchi on Saturday's show at 2:30 pm. Opening Sunday's show at 2:00 pm is the View Park Prep Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Fernando Pullum.
George Wein is producer of the Playboy Jazz Festival for the 30th consecutive year. Darlene Chan is the associate producer for both the Playboy Jazz Festival and Festival Network, LLC. Hugh Hefner is executive producer and Richard Rosenzweig is president of the Playboy Jazz Festival.
NEW THIS YEAR! Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster starting February 27, 2008. Patrons can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com, over the phone by calling (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878, at any Ticketmaster outlet or by downloading a ticket order form available at www.playboyjazzfestival.c.... There is also a link to the Ticketmaster website on the Playboy Jazz Festival website.

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

Submitted By: Nina Gordon Public Relations

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