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From Ella to Audra to Luciana, the world's music is at the Bowl.
Jazz came to the Bowl for the first time in 1936 with clarinetist Benny Goodman. His appearance stirred controversy – was this type of popular entertainment appropriate in the Bowl? It would take another seven years before Frank Sinatra's successful appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic paved the way for popular artists of all styles to become an intrinsic part of Hollywood Bowl's annual Summer Festivals.
A succession of jazz greats began appearing at the Bowl. Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Lena Horne, Stan Kenton and Jo Stafford headlined concerts in the 1940s. Nat "King" Cole appeared annually at the Bowl from 1954–1960. The legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday appeared at the "Festival of the Americas" in 1955. A 1956 program starring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong became the first jazz recording at the Bowl. The Verve release also featured Art Tatum and the Oscar Peterson Trio.
Big Bands appearing at the Bowl include the Count Basie Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra,the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Small jazz ensembles include the combos headed by Miles Davis, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck and many others. Jazz vocalists who were regularly featured at Hollywood Bowl include Ella Fitzgerald, Cleo Laine, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and many others.
The first Playboy Jazz at the Bowl event took place in 1979. The following year, the Bowl launched its own jazz series, Jazz at the Bowl. Another annual event, JVC Jazz at the Bowl, began in 1985 as a showcase for contemporary jazz.
Musical theater has been part of Bowl programming since the original cast of Gershwin's Porgy & Bess appeared at the Bowl in 1937. For many years, Johnny Green led popular Rodgers & Hammerstein nights and other concerts featuring the music of Broadway musicals. In recent years, the Bowl has produced semi-staged complete productions of South Pacific, Les Miserables, Guys & Dolls, Rent (in 2010), and many others.
World music is a catch-all term for music representing folk, popular, and classical music of cultures around the world. In recent years, the Hollywood Bowl has presented music of Korea, China, Brazil, India, and many others to enthusiastic audiences. The Bowl started out in 1922 as a community concert venue and hosted a gathering of Native Americans in 1923, European and South American folk festivals in the 1930s, a festival of Russian dance in the 1960s, and many more.
The Hollywood Bowl has been home to jazz since 1936. Playboy Jazz came along in 1979, JVC Jazz at the Bowl in 1985. All along, the Bowl and the LA Philharmonic have been presenting jazz concerts too. This video gives a quick overview featuring longtime Playboy Jazz host Bill Cosby along with Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Mel Tormé, Count Basie, Patti Austin, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Bobby McFerrin, an all-star string bass trio: Christian McBride, Ray Brown, and John Clayton; and closes with a clip of Louis Armstrong from the 1958 Colgate Comedy Hour, a live television broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl.
Video production by Shelley Baruch.
Video: Musical Theater
Could there be a bigger icon of musical theater than Carol Channing? Among her many appearances at the Hollywood Bowl, she always did a great rendition of Hello, Dolly! In this brief survey of great musical stars at the Bowl, there is Judy Garland, seen from a distance on the ramp built specially for her over the pool so she could be closer to her audience. Also included are musical theater icons Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald, Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, Carol Burnett, Reba McEntire, Kristin Chenoweth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jason Alexander, and Bernadette Peters, all of whom brought down the house at the Hollywood Bowl.
Video production by Shelley Baruch.