POPULAR FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHTS NEW DIRECTION OF JAZZ
SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2006, AT 6:00 PM
Concert is sponsored by JVC
Boasting a line-up of top contemporary jazz artists, JVC Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl continues its tradition of presenting the exciting new direction of jazz on Sunday, August 20, 2006, at 6 p.m. This year's artist roster includes smooth jazz pioneers, Fourplay, featuring keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Larry Carlton, and drummer Harvey Mason; the prolific guitarist Norman Brown's Summer Storm starring vocalist Patti Austin, pianist Alex Bugnon, and saxophonist Paul Taylor; pop/jazz crossover vocal sensation Michael Franks; and versatile saxophonist and urban jazz innovator Najee.
Each of these chart-topping artists adds their unique stamp to this evolving jazz genre that has captivated music aficionados around the world. Norman Brown's Summer Storm offers an eclectic program of smooth jazz, pop and R&B grooves. The world-class musicians of Fourplay deliver a seductive sound that helped define smooth jazz. Singer/songwriter Michael Franks burst on to the scene with such hits as "Popsicle Toes," "Monkey See-Monkey Do" and "The Lady Wants To Know." Najee mixes soulful vocals and saxophone into his trademark strain of pulsating "jazz and rhythm." The Hollywood Bowl, with the star-lit sky twinkling above, adds a special dimension to this refreshingly contemporary sound.
Considered the definitive contemporary jazz group, FOURPLAY has defined the art of smooth jazz for 13 years, even as it pushes against the genre's borders. Each member stands at the top of his craft. They innovate quietly, raise the roof with a whisper, start the dance with a beat that seduces rather than stuns. They are the spirit that is raised when four great musicians join as one: Bob James, Nathan East, Larry Carlton and Harvey Mason. Legends on their own, together they create something even greater with Fourplay. Journey, the band's latest recording, is a marriage of the experimental methods explored on their 2002 BMB/Bluebird debut, Heartfelt, to the approaches they've perfected through their shared and individual histories. Two-time Grammy-winner Bob James enjoys a reputation as a leading performer, producer, record executive, arranger and composer. Nathan East, named bassist of the year at the National Smooth Jazz Awards three years running, boasts studio and live experience with dozens of headliners, including Michael Jackson, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Barbra Streisand. Larry Carlton has earned similar distinctions as a session player for artists as diverse as Sammy Davis and John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Dolly Parton, and on 13 albums as a member of the Crusaders. Harvey Mason earned his stripes on drums behind jazz mainstream greats Errol Garner and George Shearing, as well as Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and Quincy Jones, among many others.
With the release of West Coast Coolin', Norman Brown, who leads NORMAN BROWN'S SUMMER STORM, consolidates his reputation as a premier recording and performing artist with a collection of ten tracks - written and co-written by the artist - that reaches new sonic spheres. It showcases Brown's exceptional skills as both a distinctive urban vocalist and instrumentalist. "My fans kept asking me to do more singing," explains Brown on the impetus and inspiration behind West Coast Coolin'. "At the same time I wanted to go further into some of the great Soul and R&B sounds that have been such a tremendous influence on me. I tried to bring those two goals together on this new album." Over the course of five landmark releases and a virtually constant itinerary of international touring, this gifted and versatile artist, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, has established himself as one of a handful of preeminent instrumentalists and composers in contemporary musical realms.
Vocalist PATTI AUSTIN crosses all musical genres with 16 solo albums to her credit. The performer/songwriter/vocalist has enjoyed a star-studded career that began at the age of four. She recently debuted a one-woman show, which she wrote and created, and was nominated for yet another Grammy Award for her spectacular recording in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, For Ella, recorded live with the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany. She also co-created the musical extravaganza Beboperella, a modern day music driven ritual, reuniting and fueling the return for the spirits of Bebop, along with the music of Ella Fitzgerald. In conjunction with these two Ella projects, Austin has been touring the world and was featured in a televised 60 Minutes Two profile by correspondent Charlie Rose. Austin, the daughter of a jazz trombonist and goddaughter of musical legends Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington, made her stage debut with Washington at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. During the 70's she was the undisputed "queen" of the New York jingle session scene. Her voice was heard on literally hundreds of commercials, behind everyone from Paul Simon, Cat Stevens and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Diana Ross. Her debut album for Quincy's Qwest label included the chart-topping hit "Baby Come To Me," a now classic duet with James Ingram. The pair reprised their success with the Oscar nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" Other recordings include Austin's 1998 Concord Jazz Album In and out of Love and 1999's critically acclaimed Street of Dreams. In 1999 Patti added her vocal magic to Quincy Jones' From Q With Love Vols. 1&2 albums via the standout cut, "If This Time Is the Last Time" and in 2000, she recorded On The Way to Love, a Warner Brothers album.
ALEX BUGNON has created one of the most recognized styles in today's contemporary jazz piano, a sultry mix of contemporary jazz, funk, and R&B with hints of gospel. Even the titles of his CDs create anticipation for a musical experience that is delivered with passion. His latest album, Free, reunites him with Atlanta based keyboardist and producer Phil Davis and is a refreshing blend of exotic rhythms with haunting, soulful melodies and the signature Alex Bugnon piano sound. Growing up in Montreux, Switzerland, Bugnon started playing classical piano at age six. He studied at the Paris Conservatory and the famous Mozart Academy in Salzburg, Austria. At age nineteen, he moved to the U.S. and attended the Berklee School of Music. In 1985 he moved to New York, where he spent four years working as a session musician and touring with urban and jazz luminaries such as Patti Austin, Freddie Jackson, James Ingram, Earth Wind and Fire, and Keith Sweat. Bugnon began his recording career in 1989 with his debut album, Love Season, which reached the pop charts and the Top 40 of the R&B charts, as did his 1990 recording, Head Over Heels. He intrigued his fans again in 1991 with 107 Degrees In the Shade, This Time Around (1993), and Tales From The Bright Side (1995). Five years later, Bugnon signed with Narada Jazz and recorded his sixth album, Alex Bugnon…As Promised, followed in 2001 with Soul Purpose. In 2003, Bugnon recorded Southern Living in Atlanta with some of that city's greatest musicians.
The unstoppable phenomenon of saxophonist PAUL TAYLOR reached a fever pitch in 2004 when "Steppin' Out," the irrepressible title track from his 2003 Top Ten Billboard Contemporary Jazz album, became Radio & Records' third biggest genre airplay cut of the year, he toured the U.S. as a featured performer with the all-star "Groovin' For Grover" lineup (including Jeff Lorber, Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright) and he performed and made his acting debut on the legendary ABC soap opera One Life To Live. In 2005, Taylor celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the release of his debut album On The Horn with his fourth Peak Records recording Nightlife, an ultra-seductive soul jazz date featuring more of the irresistible elements that made "Steppin' Out" an urban instrumental classic. "With every album I make, I feel as though I'm really living my dream and taking my fans on a great new journey," he says. Taylor, noted for his energetic, free-spirited playing style, tours as a solo artist as well as with Norman Brown's Summer Storm.
Over the course of 33 years and 16 albums, MICHAEL FRANKS has mesmerized an international legion of fans with his one-of-a-kind artistry. Seamlessly weaving lyrics of stunning sensuality, wit, reflection and literary eloquence over music that tastefully utilizes top shelf shadings of jazz, soul, pop, chamber and music from around the globe, Michael Franks the songwriter has set a bar in the music world that places him as nothing less than a statesman of song craft. His best known works include "Popsicle Toes," "Monkey See-Monkey Do," "The Lady Wants To Know," "When the Cookie Jar is Empty," "Tiger in the Rain," "Rainy Night in Tokyo" and "Tell Me All About It" (covered by artists ranging from Diana Krall and Natalie Cole to Manhattan Transfer and the Carpenters). Michael Franks the singer is gifted with a gentle, deliciously expressive voice - identifiable from note one. For his 17th album, Rendezvous in Rio (his first for Koch Records), Michael Franks sways to a very familiar South American beat. The CD marks a 180-degree shift in scenario and temperature zone from his previous project, the holiday/winter CD Watching the Snow. Brazilian music, culture and vibe have haunted Michael's work from early on. During his career, Franks has dedicated three songs to the country's renowned composer Antonio Carlos Jobim: "Antonio's Song (The Rainbow)," "Like Water, Like Wind" and "Abandoned Garden." And for his third album, Sleeping Gypsy (1977), Michael flew down to Rio to record two now-classic compositions: "Down in Brazil" and "B'Wana-He No Home."
NAJEE, a native of Jamaica, Queens, New York, is one of contemporary jazz's true pioneers. Creating a fresh and pulsating "rhythm and jazz" dynamic in the early days of the smooth jazz format, the versatile saxophonist-whose first two recordings, 1986's Grammy nominated Najee's Theme and 1988's Day By Day, went platinum-inspired the whole urban vibe that took over the instrumental world throughout the '90s. His greatest-hits album, The Best of Najee, was released in 1998. Mixing up his trademark soulful soprano with dynamic touches of flute and alto, Najee made a dramatic return to the scene with his highly anticipated Heads Up debut, My Point of View, released in August 2005. Over the years, Najee has worked with numerous pop legends, from Quincy Jones to Patti Labelle and Lionel Richie, as well as with singers Freddie Jackson, Will Downing and Jeffrey Osborne, and instrumentalists Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr. and George Duke, among others. Creatively and artistically, however, no other career highlight has matched his incredible association with Prince, with whom he recorded and toured for three years at the beginning of the current decade.
One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly-constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens enhancing stage views in the venue. To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl," the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now in its 38th season. Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in 1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one million admissions have been recorded. In February 2006, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the second year in a row at the 17th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards; the Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers, and Disneyland.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
SUNDAY, AUGUST 20, 2006, AT 6:00 P.M.
HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood
FOURPLAY FEATURING BOB JAMES, NATHAN EAST, LARRY CARLTON AND HARVEY MASON
NORMAN BROWN'S SUMMER STORM STARRING PATTI AUSTIN, ALEX BUGNON AND PAUL TAYLOR
Sponsored by JVC
Tickets ($5 - $111) are on sale now at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office, by calling Ticketmaster at 213.480.3232, at all Ticketmaster outlets (Robinsons May, Tower Records and Ritmo Latino locations), or online at HollywoodBowl.com. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for a 20% discount, subject to availability; call 323.850.2050 for further details. For general information or to request a brochure, call 323.850.2000.
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Adam Crane, 213.972.3034; Libby Huebner, 562.799.6055; For photos: 213.972.3034