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Playboy Jazz Festival sets skeds

The West Coast premiere of the Joe Henderson Big Band, Roy Hargrove’s new Cuban-flavored band Crisol, the return of perennial crowd-pleaser George Benson, rocker Bruce Hornsby and John Lee Hooker’s Coast to Coast Blues Band are among the highlights of the 1997 Playboy Jazz Festival, set for June 14-15 at Hollywood Bowl.

The lineup was announced Thursday at a press conference at the Playboy Mansion.

Henderson, whose recent big-band album has revealed a hitherto little-known facet of the veteran tenor saxophonist’s talent, checks in on the June 14 program, as do Hornsby, Hooker, and Chaka Khan, who represent the Festival’s attempts to appeal to audiences outside jazz. Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., always a favorite, and onetime avant-garde champion Gato Barbieri (in a rare L.A. gig) also appear that day.

The day’s lineup will be filled out by the Nicholas Payton Quintet, the Roy Haynes Group, and pending U.S. State Dept. approval, Cuban dance orchestra Los Van.

On June 15, Roy Hargrove’s band will feature Cuban pianist Chucho Valdez, who appeared at last year’s festival with his band Irakere. Again, emcee Bill Cosby will field an ad-hoc band of his own, the Cos’ of Good Music III, featuring Nat Adderley, Cedar Walton, David Sanchez, Billy Drummond and Reggie Workman. The Meeting, an electric jazz group with Ndugu Chancler, Ernie Watts and Patrice Rushen, and saxophonist Najee hold down the fusion slots. Benson, whose previous Playboy appearances have ignited the audiences, also appears June 15, as do Tito Puente, the Count Basie Orchestra, Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and Etta James.

As in previous years, the Festival will be preceded by several free community events. The most ambitious is the Summerfest in Pasadena’s Central Park over Memorial Day weekend May 24-26, featuring saxophonist Bennie Maupin, singer Bill Henderson and percussionist Pete Escovedo, keyboardist Kevin Toney and guitarist Peter White, among others.

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