“As the Beat Goes On” at the 26th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

Columnists, Kim's Kronicles — By on September 5, 2013 at 6:37 am

Cover photo-Gladys Knight. Inside Photo- Eric Benet. Both photos by Kim Webster.

By Kim Webster

LONG BEACH, CA – “As the Beat Goes On” was the perfect theme for the Long Beach Jazz Festival.  Those words remind us of The Whispers hit “And The Beat Goes On” and it did as they rocked the crowd on Friday, August 9, the first day of the festival.  Friday night also had us wrapped in the sax sound of Everett Harp and the silky voice of Howard Hewett put everyone in the mood for a wonderful weekend.

On Saturday sax man Mark Allen Felton walked thru the audience serenading the ladies.  DW3 performed a medley of R&B hits putting the crowd in a fun, happy mood. Singer/songwriter Elle Varner showcased her original compositions.  What a delight to see saxophonist Kim Waters and vocalist extraordinaire Phil Perry performing together!  The O’Jays had everybody dancin’ and singin’ the words to their hit songs.   Euge Groove closed the evening with his musical medley of sax “grooves.”

Jeanette Harris. Photo by Kim Webster.

Saxophonist/songwriter Jeanette Harris took us on a whirlwind of sax sounds Sunday afternoon.  The Al Williams Jazz Society always delivers that “feel good jazz.”  Every day of the festival, artists spoke about the late George Duke.  Many had performed with him including bassist Stanley Clarke, who dedicated his show to George.   The versatile vocal style of Eric Benet had the ladies in a frenzy as they came to the edge of the stage to hold his hand or wipe sweat from his face.   When Gladys Knight hit the stage you could feel the ground rumble.  The audience became backup as the “Pips” as she did a medley of hits.  And she looked fantastic!  Poncho Sanchez and his Band, who have performed at 24 LB Jazz Fests, closed the festival with their signature sound.

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