Magazine, Entertainment, Ricky Richardson
Long Beach- All roads lead to Long Beach. Long Beach was the place to be this past weekend. Yes, ladies and gentleman, the 31st Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival returned to the beautiful, grassy knoll of the Rainbow Lagoon, Friday, August 10 through Sunday, August 12, 2018.
The promoters of the Long Beach Jazz Festival served up an eclectic, generous smorgasbord of smooth jazz, contemporary and traditional jazz plus a fiery taste of Latin Jazz blended together with rhythm and blues. This mixture of ingredients successfully created a diverse 3-day symphony of jazz genres.
Friday, the first day of the Long Beach Jazz Festival got underway with Kim Waters and Marion Meadows, two talented leaders in their own right, in the genre of contemporary smooth jazz. It didn’t take long to connect with the ethnically, diverse crowd assembled at the Rainbow Lagoon after a busy, productive week at their respective 9-5 jobs. They entertained the crowd with hits from their respective catalog with “Roles of a Gypsy,” “Let’s Get Into It,” “Suede Humanity,” “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and “Waterfall.”
The music continued with the beautiful, and soulful sounds of Maysa. Maysa was one of many highlights of the 3-day festival. Maysa opened her crowd pleasing set with “Back to Love,” and continued with “Higher Love,” “It’s a Family Affair,” “Inside of My Dreams,” “Motions of Love” and “Love is a Battlefield. She turned up the party meter while performing cover versions of popular R&B, soul tunes, before ending her set with “Deep Waters.”
The evening belong to the amazing singer, songwriter, guitarist Jonathan Butler as he played a soothing, soulful soundtrack to cap off a wonderful evening.
Saturday, Day 2 continued on this beautiful weekend full of wonderful music in a celebratory, upscale ambiance with a nice tropical breeze.
Nick Smith-piano/keyboardist comes to the stage with an impressive resume as a veteran, in demand accompanist for a who’s who of the music business. Nick was front and center leading his own band with the tunes “Slammin,” “Caribbean,” “Wes Montgomery,” “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” and “I Like the Way She Swings” with guest vocalist Jeff Robertson. They continued with “Yeah!” and concluded with “For McCoy.” The band was made up of Nick Smith-piano/keyboards, Corey Jacobs-keyboards, Darell Darden-guitar, Edwin Livinston-bass, and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on Drums.
Eric Roberson is an awesome singer, songwriter and producer. He has written many tunes for many of the top singers in the industry. He stepped out into the spotlight to perform “Picture Perfect,” “Mark on Me,” “You Are All I Need to Get By,” “Superman,” “Dealing,” “Million Dollars and a Hip Hop Medley.
Nick Colionne is hands down the sharpest, best dressed musician in the contemporary, smooth jazz genre. He also plays a killer guitar, coupled with a captivating vocal stylings. He performed “Rainy Night in Georgia,” a playful version of “Secret Garden” as a way to promote his latest CD, and continued with Keeping It Cool,” “When You Love Somebody,” “I Got Soul & I’m Super Bad.”
Saxophonist Everette Harp, Doc Powell and vocalist Chante Moore took it up a notch with an energetic, high octane set of tunes from their respective catalog. Their set featured the tunes “Monday Speaks,” “What’s Going On,” “Love Taken Over” and “I’ll be a Fool” with Chante Moore. Their tight set continued with “Sunday Morning,” “As If We Never Met,” “Soul Fries,” “Going Through Changes,” “Stepping Out,” and let it all out with “Free/Sail” with Chante Moore.
Conguero Poncho Sanchez spiced up the festivities with a fiery set of Latin Jazz and salsa drenched in Soul to the party people up on the good foot, dancing to his contagious, infectious Latin rhythms. The crowd was moving and grooven to the following tunes “One Mint Julip,” “Promenade,” “Ven Pa’ Baila,” “Mon Pa, Mon Po,” “Besame Mama,” “Guaripumpe,” and “Son, Son Charari.” The Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band consisted of Poncho Sanchez-congas/vocals, John Carlo Anderson-bongos/vocals, George Lopez-bass, Jose Perez-timbales, Andy Langham-piano, Andy Martin-trombone, Ron Blake-trumpet and Robert Hardt-saxophones.
Bassist, songwriter and producer Marcus Miller closed out day two with a terrific set from his musical career.
Sunday, day 3- the crowd was larger on the final day of the festival. A colorful array of blankets, chairs, canopies and umbrellas covered every speck of grass inside the Rainbow Lagoon.
Early arrivals to the festival were treated to an amazing set of music put on display by keyboardist Brian Simpson and saxophonist Jazmin Ghent. People set up straight and took notice of their set with the tunes “Funk Junk,” “Can’t Tell You Why,” “Amends,” “Persuasion,” “Work Wit It,” “Just What You Need,” “Chocolate Sunday,” “Saturday Cool,” “Natural Women” and It’s All Good.”
David Benoit and Marc Antoine, piano/keyboards and guitarist respectively was a good pairing. Pure musical magic was on full display throughout their set on the tunes “Penthouse in Copa,” “French Cafe,” “Every Step,” “So Dansa Samba,” “Montuno Bay,” “A Cafe Au Lait,” “Caminando,” “Freedom at Midnight,” “Latin Quarter,” “So Nice,” and closed with “Mas Que Nada.”
Keiko Matsui with special guest Eric Marienthal and Kirk Whalum returned to the festival to thrill the crowd with some enchanting tunes.
Crowd favorite Randy Crawford was another highlight of the weekend with her angelic vocal stylings. Bassist Stanley Clarke rocked out the final slot of the final day of the tremendously popular Long Beach Jazz Festival.
The 2nd stage in the International Marketplace featured experts sharing knowledge about health and well-being, valuable information for creating healthy awareness to enrich the mind, body and soul. Additional music filled the air on the 2nd Stage as well.