Reflections of The 25th Long Beach Jazz FestivalColumnists, Kim's Kronicles — By Kim Webster on August 17, 2012 at 7:24 am
By Kim Webster
“It makes me feel so wonderful, how it has grown over 25 years,” said Odom Williams who has attended the Long Beach Jazz Festival for 25 years with his wife Betty. Long Beach Festival attendee Earl Hall, who has attended jazz festivals all over the world, spoke highly of the Festival. “It’s been outstanding,” said Hall, “That’s why I’ve been coming back all these years!”
Friday night, August 10th, featured The Blackbyrds, Eric Darius, and first time Jazz Festival performers the Legendary Isley Brothers featuring Ronald & Ernie Isley. Eric Darius delighted the crowd as he walked through playing his sax. The rhythmic Blackbyrds put everyone in a nice groove. After Ron and Ernie Isley performed a medley of Isley Brother hits, surprise guest Kelly Price sung a duet with Ron Isley.
On Saturday, Leela James performed a rockin’ rendition of “Party” that had everyone on their feet. The sax rhythms of Kirk Whalum had heads nodding and also featured his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum. Dianne Reeves’ lyrical interpretations always touch the soul. Percussionist Poncho Sanchez and his band, who performed at the first festival in 1987, put everyone in a “spicy” mood on Saturday evening. London born sax man Shilts served up a mix of jazz, R&B and funk. Soul of Summer, featuring guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Butler/Warren Hill on sax and outstanding vocalist Maysa took us home on Saturday night.
“Wonderful,” is how Al Williams described his 25 years of producing the Long Beach Jazz Festival. On Sunday, surprise guests Les McCann and bassist Henry Franklin performed “Compared To What” with the Al Williams Jazz Society Band. Legendary singer/songwriter/actress Barbara Morrison had us stirred up while performing her song “Sundown.” The radiant vocals of Chrisette Michele put everyone in a mellow mood. Animated sax man Richard Elliot and trumpeter Rick Braun sizzled on stage. Larry Graham & Graham Central Station rocked funky rhythms and vocalist/songwriter Keith Sweat made the ladies sweat! Favorites Brian Culbertson and David Sanborn closed the 25th Anniversary Long Beach Jazz Festival on an energized note!