Kenny G, Rodriguez, Austin to perform

Quincy Jones had a twofold purpose in taking the podium at Wednesday’s announcement of the 31st annual Playboy Jazz Festival. First he continued his advocacy for a secretary of the arts Cabinet position; second he introduced 23-year-old Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, whom he has taken under his wing over the past few years.

Rodriguez, who performed two tunes at the Playboy Mansion Wednesday, will make his highest profile appearance since defecting to the U.S. last year on the festival’s second day, June 14. Jones first heard Rodriguez, a composer for Cuban TV programs, in 2006 at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Rodriguez is on a bill headlined by the Wayne Shorter Quartet and featuring Kenny G, Patti Austin, King Sunny Ade from Nigeria, the Dave Holland Big Band, Monty Alexander’s reggae project Jazz and Roots, Oscar Hernandez and the Conga Room All-Stars and the Anat Cohen Quartet.

Cohen also will perform Saturday in the band hand-picked by emcee Bill Cosby, which this year features Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Luis Conte, Tanya Darby and Geoff Keezer. The Neville Brothers will headline the June 13 show, which includes a “Kind of Blue @ 50″ band led by drummer Jimmy Cobb, the Jon Faddis Quartet, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding and the New Birth Brass Band. Longtime Southern California bandleader and trumpeter Jack Sheldon will make his festival debut with his orchestra; the Pete Escovedo Orchestra is also on the bill.

The concerts are held at the Hollywood Bowl.

Quincy Jones introduces Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, who will perform in June’s Playboy Jazz Fest, at the mag’s mansion Wednesday.

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