Always in the mood for live music during the summer, I trekked to The Hollywood Bowl for last weekend’s 36th Annual Playboy Jazz Fest. Featuring a varied line-up both days hosted by comedian George Lopez, I entered a chill diverse community environment with fun, food and bunny ear-wearing folks catching up with old friends and making new ones. Day One highlights included Allen Stone, who got the entire Bowl to jump and clap their hands, who performed material from previous albums and new songs off his upcoming Capitol Records debut “Radius”. Dianne Reeves also lit up the stage, working a mini-tribute to Celia Cruz into her set. Bringing The Big Easy out west, Henry Butler along with Bernstein and the Hot 9 thoroughly impressed the audience and got white handkerchiefs waving throughout.
Bright and sunny Day Two featured another talented group of artists including José James who added a strong dash of classic rock and modern soul to the jazz mix and Fantasia Barrino who brought out surprise guest Kelly Rowland to join her on “Without Me”. George Benson and Earl Klugh provided the perfect end to my night, complementing each other’s styles well. Witnessed a saxophonist give an impassioned solo on his knees? Check. Fun had by all? Check.