Marsalis adds pizzazz to Playboy jazz festival

Directions to topline second program of two-day fest

Wynton Marsalis, who recently severed ties with the jazz side of his longtime label Columbia Records, will bring his septet to the Hollywood Bowl on June 15 to headline the 24th annual Playboy Jazz Festival.

A celebration of Miles Davis and John Coltrane — Directions in Music featuring Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove — will topline the second program of the two-day fest, festival producer George Wein announced Thursday at the Playboy Mansion.

The Saturday show will feature blues queen Etta James and the Roots Band, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Nnenna Freelon, Grammy-winning bassist and bandleader Marcus Miller, the Charles Mingus 80th Birthday Tribute Big Band, the Cuban act Maraca and San Francisco swing band Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

Most interestingly, saxophonist Joe Lovano will appear with Gil Goldstein in “A Salute to Caruso” based on his new Blue Note recording of works associated with the opera tenor. New Orleans legends the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with Pete Fountain guesting, will make its Playboy fest debut.

Directions in Music will close out an eight-hour day featuring guitarist Lee Ritenour, Patti Austin and the Count Basie Orchestra in a salute to Ella Fitzgerald; Keb’ Mo’, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, trumpeter Chris Botti, the percussion trio of Alex Acuna, Justo Almario & Tolu, and the French gypsy band Les Yeux Noirs.

Emcee Bill Cosby will again lead the Cos of Good Music with a band of Monty Alexander, Dwayne Burro, Ndugu Chancler, Craig Handy, Eric Hanks, Babatunde Lea, Byron Stripling, David T. Walker and singer Ernie Andrews.

Playboy will also sponsor several free concerts including a Beverly Hills show May 5 with the Bobby Rodriguez Salsa Orchestra, a free three-day fest over Memorial Day weekend in Pasadena starring Jeff Lorber and the Harvey Mason organization, and in Santa Monica on June 2 with Eric Marienthal heading the bill.

The traveling Playboy Jazz Festival heads to the Santa Barbara County Bowl on Sept. 28 with Natalie Cole, who recently signed with Verve to cut a jazz album, headlining.

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