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Historic Asian American Band!

review of their performance at playboy jazz festival 2003 (along with other groups)
to return to the "hiroshima" page, click HERE.



Darlene Chan & Bill Cosby

The two-day Playboy Jazz Festival, an event that has drawn some of the largest single-venue audiences for jazz anywhere in the world for the past 25 years while patterning itself after classical festivals such as Tanglewood and Salzburg, brought a wide spectrum of diverse music talents to the stage – through the always carefully crafted fashion of long-time program producer Darlene Chan.

George Wein’s “credibility with commercial appeal” saw a wide spectrum of artists from Fan-fare Ciocarlia (a Gypsy brass and woodwind band from Romania – aka “Romanian Dirty Dozen”) to the gospel of Blind Boys of Alabama to the avant-garde sounds of the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars. Their music is definitely not the sound of jazz from yesteryear. Their sounds provide ample tangible evidence of the far-reaching horizons and worlds where the worlds of music and jazz are now traveling.

Hiroshima @ 2003 Playboy Jazz Festival

The Asian/Asian Pacific American influences were represented by the excellent set of music performed by the pioneering jazz/r&b-influenced music of Hiroshima. Their creative adventures were decorated by their brightly colored clothing and mesmerizing through the magic of kotoist June Kuramoto’s beautiful string virtuosity. The group featured songs from their latest CD on Telarc called “The Bridge” – along with selections from their extensive song catalog. In the end, one was assured that Dan Kuramoto has successful led this Asian American music ensemble in continuing their long-standing tradition of providing a stunning mastery of the genre that they’ve created these past many years.

The baby-boomer generation’s tastes were addressed with Dave Holland quintet’s excellent (Chris Potter, Billy Kilson, Steve Nelson, Robin Eubanks and Holland) virtuoso to classic sounds from jazz legend Dave Brubeck (with a special appearance of Al Jarreau during the performance of “Take Five”) to the straight ahead jazz of L.A. Homegrown All Star Big Band (featuring Paul Jackson, Jr., Patrice Rushen, Tom Scott, Ernie Watts and Ndugu Chancler) to the well-executed jazz from Roy Haynes – along with the current edition Bill Cosby’s Cos of Good Music VIII (Eddie Henderson, trumpet; Pete Christleib, tenor saxophone; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; and Harold Mabern, piano). Many who heard the L.A. County High School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble hoped that they will continue this legacy. The music of the above-listed groups fondly brought back the days of jazz from a different time and a different tradition to many in the audience.

Great Talent from Somebody Only Thirteen Years Old!!

The ever-expanding boundaries of jazz vocals were represented from the samba-reggae of Brazilian singer-dancer Daniela Mercury to Georgia’s sultry Lizz Wright to Cuban singer/songwriter Issac Delgado and ending with the r&b/jazz-influenced sounds from the performance of Al Jarreau. However, the unscheduled vocal performance of 13 years old Renee Olstead brought an unexpected highlight and pleasure to the entire event. Her impressive version of “At Last” was powerful and passionate well beyond her years because it was filled with a heartfelt and blues-tinged musicality. This unannounced surprised solicited a spontaneous and impromptu standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.

The on-going tradition of incorporating Latin/Brazilian influences within the ever-expanding world where jazz reigns was represented by various groups. They range from Bobby Rodriguez’s Salsa Orchestra (with their outrageous brass section) to Poncho Sanchez’s typical great percussion work with James Moody to Los Hombres Clientes Afro-Caribbean music (where trumpeter Irvin Mayfield’s solo on “Night in Tunisia” overshadowed Bobby Rodriguez’s work). This is in addition to the performances of Brazilian singer-dancer Daniela Mercury and Cuban singer/songwriter Issac Delgado.

Ozomatli Brings Some Energy

Ozomatli and Boney Jones provided music that incorporated fiery passions, serious r&b and a strong reliance on hip-hop rhythms. They provided a different energy more akin to rap and rock concerts that provided a needed change of pace for something to “pump them up!” For many, their performances brought a closer connection between artist and audience. Many old-school jazz traditionalists revile the possibility of incorporating these elements – as they have done with various other new music possibilities. Visionaries, however, see a future where these elements will be accepted as one of many musical directions that can be incorporated with a jazz environment – only time will tell.

The former pop-star Boz Scaggs’ adventures in emphasizing his pseudo jazz influences and the muzak from Guitars & Saxes (featuring Richard Elliot, Peter White, Jeff Golub and Steve Cole) provided the best examples of music that are often heard in elevators everywhere.

When asked about the diverse jazz styles represented during the 25th Anniversary edition of the Playboy Jazz Festival, Playboy’s Hugh Hefner stated, “diversity certainly is part of the name of the game. It’s one of the things that keeps people coming back. It’s a part of what jazz has become. From the very beginning, it was the combination of the Black experience connected to European sensibilities, combined with Carribean and South American cultural diversity. Overall, that diversity is reflective of America and that is part of why Jazz truly is the one original American art form.”

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