The star-studded Chick Corea Freedom Band, the return of George Benson and the Manhattan Transfer, Malian world music superstar Salif Keita, and a smooth jazz salute to the Stax Records legacy are among the highlights of the 32nd Playboy Jazz Festival, taking place June 12-13 at the Hollywood Bowl.
The announcement was made at the Playboy Mansion on Thursday by fest producer Darlene Chan, with perennial emcee Bill Cosby kibitzing alongside.
As always, the weekend event reflects the wild diversity of idioms that marks most so-called jazz festivals in the 21st century. Chan said 10 artists and bands will be making their Playboy fest debuts.
June 12’s lineup is headed by keyboardist Corea’s latest jazz-rock ensemble, which will include saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and veteran drummer Roy Haynes. The Sax For Stax band, which closes the show, is led by saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum and keyboardist Jeff Lorber. Multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller will feature trumpeter Christian Scott in his band, and Cuban dance band Los Van Van makes a long-delayed return appearance to the fest.
Sunday’s headliners, Benson and the Manhattan Transfer, are proven Playboy crowd-pleasers: Benson for his combination of crooning vocals and galvanic guitar playing, and the Transfer — who will sing excerpts from their new “Chick Corea Songbook” CD — for their cover of Weather Report’s “Birdland,” which they performed with the fusion group at Playboy’s 1982 edition.
Keita will be making his Playboy debut, as will the Cuban expatriate band, Tiempo Libre.
In addition, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson hooks up with the Cedar Walton Quartet. The 40-plus-player Jazz Mafia from the Bay Area will play what they call their hip-hop symphony “Brass, Bows and Beats.” The latest edition of Cosby’s ad hoc Cos’ Of Good Music band will feature Dwayne Bruno, Ingrid Jensen, Mark Gross, Jay Hoggard and D.D. Jackson.
Tickets went on sale Thursday via Ticketmaster.