Playboy Jazz Festival: Day Two (Hollywood Bowl, 17,979 seats, $ 75 top) Presented by Playboy Enterprises. Performers: The Meeting, with Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler; Roy Hargrove and Crisol; Elvin Jones Jazz Machine; Count Basie Orchestra directed by Grover Mitchell; Cos of Good Music III, with Nat Adderley, Keb' Mo', Billy Drummond, Cedar Walton, David Sanchez, Poncho Sanchez, Reggie Workman, Rufus Harley; TitoPuente and India; Najee; Etta James and the Roots Band; George Benson; Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors; Mike Holober Quintet. Emcee, Bill Cosby. Reviewed June 15, 1997. Hold the obituaries. The jazz contingency, overshadowed by other idioms on Saturday, came back strong in Sunday's edition of the Playboy Jazz Festival, with a newly Latinized Young Lion (Roy Hargrove), two Old Tigers (Elvin Jones, Tito Puente) and a giant from a generation in between (George Benson) leading the way. As often happens at this outdoor block party disguised as a jazz festival, Sunday was the best day of the two. The leaden clouds of Saturday gave way to brilliant sunshine. An old friend of the festival, former Mayor Tom Bradley, now recovered from a stroke, walked slowly among the crowd in the boxes shaking every hand thrust at him. Revelers picnicked and chattered away; Cuban cigars and other illegal plants scented the air. The problem for performers, of course, is that it takes a lot to move this crowd, and the movement usually doesn't occur until the dinner hour. Even when the festival was rolling on one of its famous grooves, where one act feeds off the energy of another, no one could truly lift this party until Tito Puente, 74, provoked perhaps the biggest reaction he's ever received here with an ecstatic vamp on "Oye Como Va." Prior to that, the crowd sat inertly through a fascinating streak of jazz that freshened the past and pointed toward a Latinized future. After some solid mainstream warmups by the Mike Holober Quintet and Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors, the Meeting showed what can happen when four compatible virtuosos in jazz and funk take this fusion seriously without commercial pandering. You get fiery Coltrane-charged licks from Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen's fine multi-stylistic keyboard work, and disciplined hard funk from drummer Ndugu Chancler and bassist Neil Stubenhaus. Then we heard signs of significant change from Roy Hargrove, who in the past year has pushed beyond neo-bop to form a potentially important U.S.-Cuban band, Crisol. Hargrove's new CD "Habana" (Verve) only hints at the wild, frantic energy that Crisol released on Sunday, a complex, forward-looking stew of jazz and Cuban rhythms, laced with fiery sax solos from David Sanchez and Sherman Irby. One of Crisol's anchors, Irakere's Chucho Valdes, displayed jaw-dropping technique in an amazing piano solo, a mini-history of jazz as filtered through salsa. This could be Hargrove's real breakthrough, for the 27-year-old trumpeter never sounded hotter than he did with this 11-piece group. Could Elvin Jones follow this? You bet, for the 70 -year-old onetime engine of the John Coltrane Quartet put on a terrific, tireless polyrhythmic display. He goaded Javon Jackson into a tenor sax frenzy, supported fellow tenor Sonny Fortune's majestically scorching ventures, and energized the unbilled (and shockingly unintroduced) guest horn of Nicholas Payton. This was the most advanced music heard at this normally cautious festival. The Count Basie Orchestra, no slouch at following anyone, proved that it is still a solid, strutting, tightly swinging, most unghostly "ghost" band in its own set fronted by Grover Mitchell. Moreover, after an interval, Tito Puente converted this smooth-running machine into a most convincing salsa band, transforming the sound completely with his ever-flamboyant, still-supercharged displays on the timbales. Alas, only a facsimile of the Puente/Basie blend came through over the Bowl's screechy-awful, no-bass sound system --- and the reproduction of Puente vocalist India's thin, piercing voice became intolerable after a while. In between Basie sets, there was another curious ad-hoc edition of Bill Cosby's the Cos of Good Music --- one that began with an unbilled rare appearance by the world's only kilted jazz bagpipes player, Rufus Harley (and yes, he still does it well). Yet while the odd combinations of instruments were always intriguing, the set soon drifted aimlessly, not helped by sound problems that nearly erased Nat Adderley's cornet. After Puente/Basie came the reruns. Though this was saxophonist/flutist Najee's first Playboy appearance, his parading through the aisles act was right out of the Kenny G playbook of the '80 s, as was his brand of loud, unimaginative funk. Etta James has her nearly-annual Bowl gig down to a science now, from the same two opening songs --- "Breaking Up Somebody's Home," "I'd Rather Go Blind" --- to each calculated yet still convincing growl. But say this for George Benson; even though this trimmed version of his regular act focused heavily on his hits, he was so charged up that nothing sounded routine. Anyone with doubts about his greatness as a guitarist should have heard his awesome, deep-in-the-pocket, swinging solo in "Breezin' " --- and anyone who questions his prowess as a showman should have seen him whipping up the exhausted crowd yet again with "On Broadway." AU: Richard S. Ginell

Playboy Jazz Festival: Day Two (Hollywood Bowl, 17,979 seats, $ 75 top) Presented by Playboy Enterprises. Performers: The Meeting, with Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler; Roy Hargrove and Crisol; Elvin Jones Jazz Machine; Count Basie Orchestra directed by Grover Mitchell; Cos of Good Music III, with Nat Adderley, Keb’ Mo’, Billy Drummond, Cedar Walton, David Sanchez, Poncho Sanchez, Reggie Workman, Rufus Harley; TitoPuente and India; Najee; Etta James and the Roots Band; George Benson; Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors; Mike Holober Quintet. Emcee, Bill Cosby. Reviewed June 15, 1997. Hold the obituaries. The jazz contingency, overshadowed by other idioms on Saturday, came back strong in Sunday’s edition of the Playboy Jazz Festival, with a newly Latinized Young Lion (Roy Hargrove), two Old Tigers (Elvin Jones, Tito Puente) and a giant from a generation in between (George Benson) leading the way. As often happens at this outdoor block party disguised as a jazz festival, Sunday was the best day of the two. The leaden clouds of Saturday gave way to brilliant sunshine. An old friend of the festival, former Mayor Tom Bradley, now recovered from a stroke, walked slowly among the crowd in the boxes shaking every hand thrust at him. Revelers picnicked and chattered away; Cuban cigars and other illegal plants scented the air. The problem for performers, of course, is that it takes a lot to move this crowd, and the movement usually doesn’t occur until the dinner hour. Even when the festival was rolling on one of its famous grooves, where one act feeds off the energy of another, no one could truly lift this party until Tito Puente, 74, provoked perhaps the biggest reaction he’s ever received here with an ecstatic vamp on “Oye Como Va.” Prior to that, the crowd sat inertly through a fascinating streak of jazz that freshened the past and pointed toward a Latinized future. After some solid mainstream warmups by the Mike Holober Quintet and Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors, the Meeting showed what can happen when four compatible virtuosos in jazz and funk take this fusion seriously without commercial pandering. You get fiery Coltrane-charged licks from Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen’s fine multi-stylistic keyboard work, and disciplined hard funk from drummer Ndugu Chancler and bassist Neil Stubenhaus. Then we heard signs of significant change from Roy Hargrove, who in the past year has pushed beyond neo-bop to form a potentially important U.S.-Cuban band, Crisol. Hargrove’s new CD “Habana” (Verve) only hints at the wild, frantic energy that Crisol released on Sunday, a complex, forward-looking stew of jazz and Cuban rhythms, laced with fiery sax solos from David Sanchez and Sherman Irby. One of Crisol’s anchors, Irakere’s Chucho Valdes, displayed jaw-dropping technique in an amazing piano solo, a mini-history of jazz as filtered through salsa. This could be Hargrove’s real breakthrough, for the 27-year-old trumpeter never sounded hotter than he did with this 11-piece group. Could Elvin Jones follow this? You bet, for the 70 -year-old onetime engine of the John Coltrane Quartet put on a terrific, tireless polyrhythmic display. He goaded Javon Jackson into a tenor sax frenzy, supported fellow tenor Sonny Fortune’s majestically scorching ventures, and energized the unbilled (and shockingly unintroduced) guest horn of Nicholas Payton. This was the most advanced music heard at this normally cautious festival. The Count Basie Orchestra, no slouch at following anyone, proved that it is still a solid, strutting, tightly swinging, most unghostly “ghost” band in its own set fronted by Grover Mitchell. Moreover, after an interval, Tito Puente converted this smooth-running machine into a most convincing salsa band, transforming the sound completely with his ever-flamboyant, still-supercharged displays on the timbales. Alas, only a facsimile of the Puente/Basie blend came through over the Bowl’s screechy-awful, no-bass sound system — and the reproduction of Puente vocalist India’s thin, piercing voice became intolerable after a while. In between Basie sets, there was another curious ad-hoc edition of Bill Cosby’s the Cos of Good Music — one that began with an unbilled rare appearance by the world’s only kilted jazz bagpipes player, Rufus Harley (and yes, he still does it well). Yet while the odd combinations of instruments were always intriguing, the set soon drifted aimlessly, not helped by sound problems that nearly erased Nat Adderley’s cornet. After Puente/Basie came the reruns. Though this was saxophonist/flutist Najee’s first Playboy appearance, his parading through the aisles act was right out of the Kenny G playbook of the ’80 s, as was his brand of loud, unimaginative funk. Etta James has her nearly-annual Bowl gig down to a science now, from the same two opening songs — “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” “I’d Rather Go Blind” — to each calculated yet still convincing growl. But say this for George Benson; even though this trimmed version of his regular act focused heavily on his hits, he was so charged up that nothing sounded routine. Anyone with doubts about his greatness as a guitarist should have heard his awesome, deep-in-the-pocket, swinging solo in “Breezin’ ” — and anyone who questions his prowess as a showman should have seen him whipping up the exhausted crowd yet again with “On Broadway.” AU: Richard S. Ginell

Playboy Jazz Festival: Day Two

Hollywood Bowl, 17,979 seats, $75 top

Production

Presented by Playboy Enterprises

Cast

Performers: The Meeting, with Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler; Roy Hargrove and Crisol; Elvin Jones Jazz Machine; Count Basie Orchestra directed by Grover Mitchell; Cos of Good Music III, with Nat Adderley, Keb' Mo', Billy Drummond, Cedar Walton, David Sanchez, Poncho Sanchez, Reggie Workman, Rufus Harley; Tito Puente and India; Najee; Etta James and the Roots Band; George Benson; Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Ambassadors; Mike Holober Quintet. Emcee, Bill Cosby. Reviewed June 15, 1997.

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