Sunday, August 13, 2017

30th Long Beach Jazz Festival Brings The Heat

Marcus Miller headlines 30th Long Beach Jazz Festival

By Darlene Donloe

You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Friday night to kick off the 30th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival. 

The sun was setting ever so slowly against the water, the breeze was light and welcomed, the weather was perfect, the crowd was enthusiastic, the talent on stage was first rate and the surprise appearance of legendary singer Randy Crawford, kicked the festivities into high gear.

The lineup for this year’s festival, taking place, as always, at the Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, is one of the best – ever!

(l-r) Jeff Lorber, Paul Jackson Jr. and Everett Harp

Jazz Funk Soul
 featuring Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Paul Jackson Jr. opened up the festival Friday night with a high-energy performance, followed by the brilliance of Rachelle Ferrell. Marcus Miller killed with an hour-long session that included his surprise guest, renowned vocalist Randy Crawford, who wowed the crowd with her hit, Street Life.

Randy Crawford
Randy Crawford sings Street Life, accompanied by Marcus Miller

“Thank you for the love,” said Crawford as she received a roaring reception from the audience.

Saturday’s lineup includes: Boney James, Will Downing, Nathan East, Eric Darius and
30 Years of Long Beach Jazz - featuring: Ndugu Chancler featuring Bobby Lyle, Craig T. Cooper, Alphonso Johnson, and  Bridgette Bryant.  Jazz in Pink is the opening act.

Sunday’s roster includes headliner Poncho Sanchez, Ramsey Lewis and Urban Knights, Najee, Bob James, Spyro Gyra, Al Williams Jazz Society featuring:  Barbara Morrison and special guests.

Friday night Everett Harp played “Going Through Changes,” a song he wrote with his mentor, the late George Duke. He also paid homage to his friend, guitarist Chuck Loeb, who died.  In tribute he played You’ll Know When You Know, a song he played with Loeb and Jeff Lorber. He also wowed the crowd with Monday Speaks his 2006 hit from the CD In The Moment.

Al Williams and Kimberly Benoit

Kimberley Benoit, president of Rainbow Promotions, LLC, became emotional onstage as she thanked the jazz enthusiasts who have supported the event for 30 years.

“Thank you for supporting us time and time again,” she said wiping away the tears.

KTWV 94.7's Pat Prescott

KTWV 94.7 personality Pat Prescott emceed the event and spoke about why she come back year after year.

“First, I love music,” said Prescott. “I also Love Al [Williams] and Kim. They are great people and they always put on a great event. It always feels like a family reunion. It has become tradition. This year they have a great lineup. I look forward to this every year. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Everett Harp and his daughter, Tessa

Everett Harp

Everett Harp has been performing at the Long Beach Jazz Festival since 1993.

“You can’t beat this crowd or the scenery,” said the 56-year-old. “Al and Kim know how to treat their artists.”

When asked about Chuck Loeb, who died this past July 31, Harp called him a “true friend.”

“He was just an inspiration,” said Harp. “He inspired me to play harder and to keep the fire burning.”

Rachelle Ferrell

During her set, Rachelle Ferrell had to check a cameraman who was, apparently, too close to her while she was trying to perform.

“You need to back up 50 feet,” she told him. “Respect my space. This isn’t Basketball Wives. Do you think this is Basketball Wives? “

After telling the crowd to “respect” her space, she thanked them for their support.  She added: "Now as the rumors fly out that Rachelle Farrell is a diva, y'all are my ears and my mouth and my support and my champions and my warriors. Please tell the whole story." Ferrell, who had an exceptional set, was in rare form. She also told the crowd she was “half a century and some change” as she and her incredible band kept the audience mesmerized.

“If I die tomorrow, it’ll be alright,” she said.

Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller jammin' at 30th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

Marcus Miller was the perfect ending to a fabulous night of music.  He didn’t disappoint.

He played Tutu, a song he said he wrote for Miles Davis, who was an “intimidating” musician. He also paid tribute to his friend who died last February 12, the late Al Jarreau, by playing the hit, Since I Fell For You, a song Jarreau made famous. The song appeared on the Bob James/David Sanborn album Double Vision.

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