There’s a new emcee in town for the 35th edition of Los Angeles’ Playboy Jazz Festival (June 15-16), which replaced longstanding host Bill Cosby with another comedian, George Lopez. This changing of the guard is significant since Cosby, a jazz enthusiast and ambassador for the form, hosted the weekend event staged at the Hollywood Bowl for more than 30 years.
“You can never hope to replace Bill Cosby or hope to come close to what he’s done,” Lopez told Variety. “But to have him choose me, of all the people that could have been chosen, is a tremendous honor.”
This year’s program features the fest’s usual mix of mainstream jazz, R&B, blues and Latin music, with keyboardist George Duke, who will play with R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne; a cappella group Naturally Seven, with Herbie Hancock sitting in on piano; and a band led by Bob James and David Sanborn as the headliners.
Among the acts making their Playboy fest debuts are next-gen artist Grace Kelly, a 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist who will perform with sax mentor Phil Woods; and R&B/pop thrush India.Arie.