4th of July Jazz Festival With a Bang!
Los Angeles-Fireworks was not the only thing seen flying throughout the sky on our nation’s birthday. Various musical notes were flaring up all over Leimert Park Village as well. The occasion was the 6th Annual Vision Outside 4th of July Jazz Festival 2008. Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, District 8, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs presented this festival of America’s number 1 art form: JAZZ with some blues and spiced up with Afro-Cuban rhythms. James Janisse served as Master of Ceremonies. The weather Gods blessed the festival with a steady breeze to keep everyone cool underneath the large canopy that hovered over the festival grounds.
The festival got under way on time with drummer Washington Rucker and His Bebop Cats. The group featured Dr. Derrick Finch-keyboards, Richard Reid-bass, George Harper-saxophone and Ron Lee on trumpet. This talented aggregation went straight-ahead with a set of Bebop and Swing on the following tunes “Night In Tunisia,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” and concluded with “St.Thomas.”
I was not familiar with Elisa Gomez Tailor before this concert. Trust me; I will not soon forget this dynamic vocalist who took the crowd on an adventurous journey thru Brazil, Cuba and Puerto Rico during her exciting set of Afro-Cuban rhythms. She opened her set with “Mas Que Nada,” (samba) and continued our journey with a Latin tinge version of “Fever,” “Guantanamera,” “Oye Como Va and stamped our passport with “La Vida Es Un Carnival”.
Los Angeles Councilman Bernard C. Parks and his lovely wife Bobbie presented a Proclamation from the City to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles- www.namiurbanla.org on the occasion of the celebration of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Healthy Month. Accepting the Proclamation were Nancy Carter, Lynn Goodloe and Madelaine Cobb.(Pictured)
There are two statements to describe the set presented by the next artist (It Ain’t Nothing But A Party) and (The Blues is Alright)!!!!! Extra exclamation marks for emphasis. Press material states that she is “Blind, Beautiful & Bad” as well as “the talk of LA.” I’m speaking of none other than Ms. Charlie Jene. She was the undisputed highlight and crowd favorite of the festival. She belted out the blues, segued into some jazz and took the audience down memory lane with some old school R&B. The crowd knew that they were in for a treat as she opened with “Let The Good Times Roll” and continued with “Rock Me Baby,” “Moondance,” “Summertime,” “The Thrill Is Gone,” “Let’s Fall In Love,” “Darling; You Send Me,” “Daddy’s Home,” “Get Ready,” “Down Home Blues and left the crowd with a good feeling with “Love and Happiness,”
The late great DJ Chuck Niles had a saying “Jazz Straight Ahead and Down The Middle.” Trumpeter Rick Perkins Quintet provided just what the good doctor ordered. If memory serves me right this is Rick Perkins 3rd or 4th time performing at the festival. It is also possible that he has performed at all six installments of the festival. This should give you and idea of how great The Rick Perkins Quintet is when they performed “Living For The City,” “My Funny Valentine,” and closed their set with some additional “Down Home Blues.”
The LA String Collective closed out the festival with a different spin/interpretation of jazz standards to the delight of the audience.
The crowd was invited to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the other fireworks extravaganza mentioned earlier. I was fortunate to see a spectacular fireworks display the night before at the City of Lawndale Fireworks show at Leuzinger High School.
It is highly recommended that you will want to bookmark the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs website so that you can stay informed on the tremendous amount of events happening around our culturally enriched city. www.culturela.org click on Festival Guide and then click on events. You will find events listed until the end of the year. There are amazing events listed year round.