Daley Performing Live
Tyrese Performing Live
Jazz Street Life
BLENDE Magazine Covers The 2014 Long Beach Jazz Festival
Continuing its tradition as the only Southern California Jazz Festival for the 27th afternoon giving the crowd two days of wholesome family fun and quality entertainment from some of today’s most distinguished jazz and R&B artists.
Jesse Boykins III hit the stage with a set that consisted of classics like “I Can’t Stay” and “4 U 2 B Free.” followed by the sax appeal of Michael Lington who showcased material from his latest CD Soul Appeal.
As day one progressed the crowd was treated to sets by some of their favorites which included Ramsey Lewis, Rachelle Farrell, and Najee whose performances of material from their vast catalog of work set the tone for the evening’s headliner LA’s own Tyrese who did not disappoint the crowd as he hit the stage and flowed effortlessly through classic hits like “Sweet Lady,” “The Sounds of Love Making,” and “Pulling Me Back” however one of the highlights of his set was a music trivia game he played on stage by asking fans if they knew a few of his favorite R&B songs from Jodeci, Mint Condition, The Isley Brothers, and Mary J. Blige giving the audience an opportunity to showcase their grown and sexy swag while paying homage to true R&B music. The night ended with Tyrese performing his #1 single “Stay” after encouraging the crowd to chant “LEAVE MY TYRESE ALONE” so he could give them just a little bit more although the imposed curfew said otherwise and the music quickly faded into the night.
As if Saturday’s festivities were not enough Sunday continued what had started the day before and it only got better as we had the opportunity to experience more of the versatility of this year’s festival line-up that ranged from straight-ahead jazz to R & B crooners.
Chicago native vocalist/saxophonist Rick Parma kicked off day two of the festival on Sunday with his Pop, Funk, and R&B laced covers of “Before I Let You Go,” “Shake Your Body,” “Treasure,” “Happy,” “Tell Me What I Say,” and “Until the End of Time.”
Other highlights on Sunday included Al Williams Jazz Society featuring special guests’ saxophonists Ronnie Laws and Wilton Felder who performed a special tribute to the late, great Wayne Henderson as well as local crowd favorite Hiroshima whose distinct sound of jazz, and R&B with an Asian influence kept the groove flowing smoothly.
UK soul singer Daley came out initially to a lukewarm crowd however they eventually jumped on board and began to take notice as he performed renditions of “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell and “Sweet Thing” by Chaka Khan. He continued his soulful performance with songs such as “Good News,” “Good Things Comes to Those Who Wait,” “Game Over,” “Blame the World,” and “Be.”
Jazz/Crossover Veteran and Seven Time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau gave the crowd nothing less than what they have come to expect from him over the years performing crowd favorites such as “Boogie Down,” “Spain,” and “We’re In This Love Together” but it was the moving tribute to George Duke that had the crowd on its feet as he closed his set.
As the sun began to set and the stage lights came on it was apparent that the majority of the crowd had been waiting patiently for the next artist to hit the stage and once Will Downing and his band got started there was no stopping the flow and excitement as he performed classic tunes from his massive catalog of hits and demonstrated his incredible vocal ability.
After a set change it was now time for the lady of the night and headliner that had the distinct honor of bringing the entire weekend to a close. Her name is legendary, her music is timeless, her lyrics touch you at the core, and her voice possesses rich warmth that soothes your ears and holds you close. Laylah Hathaway had the crowd on its feet from the time she hit the stage until she belted out her last note. Taking attendees on a musical journey that included “Baby Don’t Cry,” “Heaven Knows,” her rendition of “Angel” by Anita Baker and a magnificent cover of the Luther Vandross classic “Forever, For Always For Love” before closing with “Rock With You” in a tribute to the late great Michael Jackson.
By: Kevyn Nelson