Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Back in the Day at Central Avenue Jazz Festival

Credit: Ricky Ricardo
Gerald Wilson is one of the legends who performed during the 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival

The 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival was held on a picture perfect weekend in Southern California, Saturday, July 27th and Sunday, July 28th.

Back in the Day at Central Avenue Jazz Festival

Los Angeles - The Coalition for Responsible Community Development and 9th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr., presented the 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival on Saturday, July 27th and Sunday, July 28th on 42nd and Central Avenue.

The festival ushered in a new era with the re-furbished, grand opening of the historic Dunbar Hotel. The Dunbar Hotel is now open as housing for Senior citizens. The festival also welcomed recently elected Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr., to the "New Ninth" District.

The Central Avenue Jazz Festival is a unique cultural event that pays tribute to the significent contributions that African Americans made on Central Avenue. Central Avenue was the birthplace of West Coast Jazz and was nationally recognized as a jazz hotspot from the 1920's to the 1950's. The jazz festival is an annual event dedicated to the preservation and celebration of jazz and African American Heritage.

The weather co-operated on this wonderful weekend. The musical talents were superb and the food vendors served up some amazing dishes. Everyone had a great time at the 18th Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival. The event brought a multi-ethnic crowd together to enjoy some classic sounds. The festival served as a re-union for old friends, former classmates and co-workers. People made new friends as a result of attending the festival. Central Avenue Jazz Festival always bring back fond memories of bygone days on "The Avenue" for those who frequented the clubs on "The Avenue" or who heard parents and other relatives talk about the days on "The Avenue."

The day got under way with welcome remarks from 9th District Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr. Jose Rizo served as Musical Director, and shared Master of Ceremonies duties with Michael Dolphin and James Janisse.

The live entertainment got under way with A Place Called Home Jazz Ensemble, directed by Charyn Harris. They performed an amazing set to anchor the festival. They opened with "Flying Home" and continued with "Red Clay," "Caravan," and a crowd pleasing version of "Good Morning Heartache," "Fly Me To the Moon," and "At Last."

The program graduated to the next level with the next group on the line-up. The LAUSD Beyond The Bell All-City Jazz Big Band kept the energy level up during their program, on the tunes "Perdido," "Song for My Father," they got down with the blues on "O.C. Mae." They featured a breakout solo performance by Alice Chin to sing "Too Close for Comfort" and continued with "Tenor Madness" by Sonny Rollins, "Blues Bossa" by Kenny Durham and exited swinging on "Sing, Sing, Sing" featuring Mekala Sessions on drums and Christopher Astoquilla on clarinet.

The history of the festival namesake was celebrated with the always entertaining set by Mr. Ernie Andrews. He opened his set with "On a Clear Day," and continued to captivate the crowd with "Next Time You See Me," "I'm Just a Lucky So and So," and the crowd favorite "If I Were You;I'll Love Me." Mr. Andrews were aided and abetted wonderfully with Llew Matthews on piano, Richard Simon on bass, Fritz Wise on drums and Ricky Woodard on saxophone.

Cuba L.A. led by Danilo Lozano added some spicy rhythms of salsa and Latin Jazz to get the salseros up and about moving to the infectious sounds from Cuba. They performed "El Dulcerito Llego," "El Manisero," "Almendra"-a Danzon, and continued with "Pare Cochero" and "Cuba Linda/Flor Linda."

Ashley Chanel is a new songstress on the music scene. She channeled Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughan during her engaging set that featured the tunes "Them There Eyes," "Autumn Leaves," "A Train," "Body and Soul" and "Feeling Good." Ms. Chanel received a well deserved standing ovation.

Gerald Wilson Orchestra closed out the first day of the festival on a rousing note, opening their set with "Blues For the Count" and closing their set with "Viva Tirado." Mr. Wilson is also another Jazz legend from the bygone days of Central Avenue.

Jazz fans were greeted with a beautiful Southern California Sunday, for another fun-filled day of jazz, blues and Latin Jazz. It is always a cause for celebration when groups of young musicians are onstage playing jazz. Jazz America performed jazz standards with a lot of enthusiasm that shows that they really, really dig America's #1 Art form JAZZ! They took the crowd and I on a musical journey of the history of jazz, on an imaginary train. Their perfectly swinging set started appropriately enough in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz on the tune "Secondline." Our train continued north to Chicago with a tune by Duke Ellington entitled "Royal Garden Blues." All aboard as we travel north to New York with a tune by Juan Tizon "Perdido." Kansas City was also recognized as a hotbed of jazz back in the day, "Walking and Swinging" by Mary Lou Williams represented this region. Our journey ended in Los Angeles on "The Avenue" as we celebrated the exciting West Coast Jazz Scene on the tunes "That Warm Feeling," "Vida," "My Funny Valentine" and "Moten Swing."

We stayed in a youthful mode during the set presented by Jamael Dean Quintet. Jamael is a sensational fifteen year old piano player who was joined onstage with Nedra Wheeler on bass, Chuck Manning on saxophone, Noland Shaheed on trumpet and his grandfather, Donald Dean on drums. This set was one of the highlights for me as the quintet performed "First Light" by Freddie Hubbard, The Eye of the Hurricane" by Herbie Hancock, "Solar," "Dolphin Dance," "All the Things You Are" and "Inner Urge." The jazz community and world will hear more from this dynamic piano player in the future.

The festival continued full steamed ahead with the outstanding sounds of the powerhouse group West Coast Get Down. This tight group move jazz forward and worked the crowd into a frenzy. A sea of smiles were seen throughout their set. The group consist of Gregory Porter on trombone, Kamasi Washington on saxophone, Gemati Smith on trumpet, Cameron Graves on piano, Brandon Coleman on keyboards, Miles Mosely on bass, Tony Austin on drums and vocalist Patrice Quinn.

Ray Goren and The Generation Blues Experience, followed by Gilbert Castellanos and the New Latin Jazz Quintet featuring Charles McPherson closed out another outstanding jazz festival on "The Avenue."


About the Writer

Ricky Ricardo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Back in the Day at Central Avenue Jazz Festival

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By Credo on August 24, 2013 at 05:50 pm

So many musicians where there it must have been a glorious exciting time. You certainly seem to have captured all of the names, events and music of the festivities. I felt that this article should be seen as, a great journalist at work reporting every detail.

Fabulous reporting, excellent writing.


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By Ricky Ricardo on August 25, 2013 at 12:13 am

Credo,Thanks for your kind remarks that also resonated with the organizers of the Central Avenue Jazz Festival as well as the musicians.I'm off to attend and enjoy another local Jazz Festival soon.

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