TIM,Entertainment, Ricky Richardson
Los Angeles-In honor of the festival’s 31st Anniversary, Jazz Reggae Festival celebrated three decades of good vibes, jammin’ music, delicious cultural cuisine and cultural enrichment. This was a one day affair, Monday, May 29, 2017, at the grassy, tree lined Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
This was the perfect setting on this partially overcast day, with the sun making an appearance in the afternoon. Thousands, including UCLA students, and music lovers from throughout Greater Los Angeles area were in attendance on Memorial day for the good vibes. There were a wide array of cultural foods, arts and crafts.
DJ Q BWOY was at the controls of the ones and twos spinning an eclectic mix of rock steady reggae, R&B and soul as the people arrived to the festival grounds. He also served as Master of Ceremonies and played additional tunes in between acts.
In keeping with the successful model set last year, the 31st Annual Jazz Reggae Festival stuck to it’s roots, presenting headliners from the genres of jazz and reggae accompanied by a curated selection of student bands.
Voodoo kicked off the show with “Serenity,” “Spotty,” “Back in the Day” featuring guest vocalist Merlaku Ra and concluded their set with “I’m On.” the crowd and I were diggin their sounds featuring some spoken words/hip-hop over some jazzy beats.
Third Degree led by vocalist Ryan Nealon cranked it up a notch during their incredible set. It is hard to believe that this band and the one previous were student bands. A shout out to the Music Department at UCLA. The group performed “Weight in Gold,” (Gallant), an original tune “The Other Side of Me,” “Tokyo” by Lianne la Haras and “I’ll Be There” featuring special guest vocalist Jada Banks Mace.
UCLA Latin Jazz Big Band directed by Dr. Bobby Rodriguez added some spicy, explosive Latin rhythms to the proceedings on the tunes “Party Time” this is an original tune by Dr. Bobby Rodriguez and a fitting anthem for the 31st Annual Jazz Reggae Festival. The band shifted gears to present “Descarga” a hard hitting Salsa tune. They capped off their set with a rousing version of “Josefina.”
Mattson 2 is a play on names. The duo features twin brothers Jared on guitar, wah wah’s, etc. and Jonathan on drums. The two of them produced a lot of music during their set which remind me of John McLaughlin and Weather Report. Their set featured a jazz fusion on the tunes “Peaks of Yew,” “JBS,” an arrangement of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” “Disco Kid,” and “Cascade.”
The crowd got more livelier during the set by JAH9. She had the crowd in the palm of her hands during her captivating performance on the tunes “Overture,” “New Name,” “Humble Mi,” “Avocado,” “Marijuana”-mentioning the health benefits of said herb. She spoke out about domestic violence on “Unafraid” and another hot topic “Preacher Man,” “Taken Up and “Steamers.”
Daniel Caesar gave a mesmerizing performance that brought the entire Jazz Reggae crowd to the front of the stage. The crowd were engulfed by his soulful lyrics and guitar strumming on the tunes “End of the Road,” “Violet,” “ROS” by Mac Miller, “Japanese Denim,” “Death and Taxes,” “Paradise,” “Get You,” and “Show No Regret” with the crowd shouting for an encore.
Protoje closed out another successful addition of Jazz Reggae Festival with hits from his wonderful catalog to the delight of all in attendance.
Thrivin’ and Vibin’ was an appropriate theme for the 31st Annual Jazz Reggae Festival. The fact that the festival was sold out is a testament to the hard work of the Cultural Affairs Commission Staff and dedicated volunteer.