Playboy Jazz Festival 2011

Entertainment — By on April 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm


Robert Storm(L) and some guy hanging at the Playboy Mansion. Cover photo and inside photo by Buddy Sampson.

The Playboy Jazz Festival 2011

By Buddy Sampson   


My favorite time of the year is coming. Yay, summertime is upon us, which means it’s time for the Playboy Jazz Festival. Each year, The Scoop LA manages to get on the press list for the press conference of the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Playboy Mansion. Okay, so I’ve been to the Playboy Mansion a million times. But this year, I took entrepreneur Robert Storm with me this year and I haven’t been able to keep him quiet about it since. His wife, actress Nikki Storm, who is also a client of mine, said that he’s been driving her crazy about it since and he, of course, has been making up stories about how all the bunnies and models were all over him at our time at the Mansion during the conference.


Ndugu Chancler(L) Patrice Rushen and Robert Storm. Robert had no idea he was standing next to two music legends. Photo by Buddy Sampson.

 Of course it wasn’t true, but he still has bragging rights for years. While there, Robert (who is affectionally known as Mr. Nikki Storm) met Patrice Rushen. Now he had no idea who she was, all he kept asking was, “who is that pretty lady?” I said to him, “you don’t know Patrice Rushen?” Then I sang a poor version of “Forget Me Nots,” and he still didn’t recognize the song.(We have to get poor Robert Storm out more often and away from business huh?) Later, I sang the song again to his wife and she knew right away who she was. I also introduced him to my good friend Ndugu Chancler. Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler will be headlining one of the community event series events, on June 5th, “Playboy Jazz at Warner Center” from 4PM to 8PM at the Valley Cultural Center with the group 1+One. I’m going to have to drag Robert to that event, so he can see her in person. He’ll think of her as more than a pretty face, that’s for sure. Also on June 5th will be Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad, a group I love. They’ve played on Mayor Villaraigosa’s Inaugural Ball and the first annual Latin Grammy Awards. Maybe I’ll have to bring a date there and show Robert how to dance to the Latin rhythms they’ll be putting down. The Nikhil Korula Band will also be on that show. I’ve never heard them, but I’m sure they will be awesome. They are a special group that mixes calypso, rock and reggae music. Do they need a bass player? I’m available. Oh, they have one, oh well, maybe next time. Opening that show is the Calabasas High School band. I went last year and heard them. They are great!!

Now on Sunday, May 1st, Beverly Hills will be on fire with Mr. Justo Almario, who I jammed with at a party a couple of years ago. (I play a little bass-one day I hope to grace the Playboy stage-Playboy are you listening?) I love Justo. I saw him play at a church a couple of years ago and he is a awesome, awesome cat. His mixture of jazz, South American and world rhythms, yes, will set you on fire. Pianist Tamir Hendelman and his trio will round out the show. I’ve never heard him either, but he’s performed with everybody, including Barbra Streisand and Gladys Knight. So you know he’s got to be bad!! I’m sure Robert’s wife, Nikki, will drag him to that show, after all, we have to educate him.

Oh, but then there’s the big festival, The Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. That is my dream stage. If I get on that stage ever, I can die a happy man after that show. Hosted by Bill Cosby, the Master of Ceremonies, the two-day fest promises to be a treat. When Robert and I were at the Playboy Mansion, I went to introduce Robert to Mr. Cosby and Cosby joked, “who the hell is this guy?” He put up with us, then made jokes about the all boys high school we went to in Philadelphia, Central High School. As usual, he was in rare form, on the press conference podium, torturing poor festival promoter Darlene Chan and saxophonist Ronnie Laws, who were both good sports about the whole thing. He wlll preside on both the Saturday and Sunday shows. On the June 11, Saturday show, featured will be Dianne Reeves, The Roots with special guest Terence Blanchard and Fourplay, with Bob James, Nathan East, Chuck Loeb and Harvey Mason. Harvey Mason was at the Playboy Mansion that day at the press conference and Robert didn’t know who he was either. Aye!! The Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra will be on the Saturday show as well, along with the SFJazz Collective, which will be celebrating the music of Stevie Wonder. It will feature Stefon Harris, Avishai Cohen, Greg Osby, David Sanchez, Edward Simon, Matt Penman, Eric Harland and another Philadelphia Central High dude, Robin Eubanks. You may know Robin as the brother of Kevin Eubanks, but he’s much more than that. He’s an outstanding trombonist. My brother Steven Sampson, who is also an excellent trombonist, who used to play with Phyllis Hyman, is a friend of their’s. Okay, that was a shameless plug, but I had to mention him. So on that day, there will be three Central High brothers in the house at least. Bill Cosby, Robin Eubanks and I.

Okay, now that I’ve digressed, also on the Saturday show will be A Night In Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans, featuring the Rebirth Brass Band with guest artists Donald Harrison Jr. Kermit Ruffin, Dr. Michael White and Big Sam Williams. I’ve never heard them either, but I’m sure they will rock the house. The Cos of Good Music will also be on that show and Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler (didn’t I hear that name somewhere before?) Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea will comprise his band. Cosby will conduct the band and I’m sure will do his usual antics. Rounding out that show will be Ambrose Akinmusire and the LAUSD All City High School Band, under the direction of Tony White and JB Dyas.

The Sunday show will have one of my all time favorites on stage, Buddy Guy. He can be a little foul-mouthed at times, I may have to bring my soap, but I love that guy. He will entertain the heck out of you. The Lee Konitz New Quartet will play, along with John Scofield and Robben Ford. That will be great. Naturally 7 killed it last year and they will be back. Their a capella style of vocals will make you forget very quickly that they don’t have a band. They imitate instruments to a tee. Harmony 3, with Ronnie Laws, Stanley Jordan and Walter Beasley will grace the stage that day and if you haven’t heard Stanley Jordan, you will love his unique guitar playing. That is a great sounding band. Geri Allen and her Timeline Band will perform. Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown,which features Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and Vusi Mahlasela will also rock the house. I hope they play “Cold Sweat,” or “Mother Popcorn.” I will be in the dance aisles then, I promise you. Robert Storm, you have heard of James Brown, right?

Bill Cunliffe and the Resonance Big Band with Marian Petrescu will take the stage on Sunday. They will satisfy all the traditional jazz listeners with a Tribute to Oscar Peterson. Carlos Varela will perform and the Pullum High School Jazz Big Band, under the direction of Fernando Pullum, will open the show.

Now all these shows promise to be a great time for all. I hope Nikki Storm drags her husband to these shows. After all we have to educate my friend and entrepreneur Robert Storm about music. Hopefully, he’ll teach me a little about business. It’ll be a win-win for both of us. See you all at the Playboy Jazz Festival Concert series shows.

Special thanks to Nina Gordon Public Relations for their help!



Three legends. Drummers Harvey Mason and Ndugu Chancler. Pianist/composer Patrice Rushen(c). Photo by Robert Storm.

Patrice Rushen(L) and Ronnie Laws. Photo by Robert Storm.

Hugh Hefner and Robert Storm. Besides funny man Bill Cosby, Hefner was the only person at the press conference Robert knew. We promise to get him out more. Photo by Buddy Sampson.

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