Hollywood Bowl to host renamed jazz festival

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Wave Staff Report

HOLLYWOOD — The annual jazz festival will be held at the Hollywood Bowl June 25 and 26 under a new name.

For 40 years, from 1979 to 2019, the Playboy Jazz Festival was held on a weekend in June at the Hollywood Bowl featuring the top names in jazz. The 2020 and 2021 festivals were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and last November the Hollywood Bowl announced that the Playboy Jazz Festival was being renamed the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival.

“While the name is new, longtime fans of the Playboy Jazz Festival can expect an equally stellar two-day celebration driven by the top artists in jazz and more,” the bowl announced at the time.

This year’s festival will be headline by The Roots, which serves as the house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

They will headline the June 25 show. Singer Gregory Porter will headline the June 26 show.

The Roots began in Philadelphia in 1987 when founding members Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter met while attending the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. At first, the duo performed on streets corners, Questlove playing bucket drums while Black Thought rapped over his rhythms.

Their first gig was a school talent show where the duo performed as Radio Activity. They later changed the name of the group to The Square Roots and dropped Square from the name in 1992 because a Philadelphia folk-rock group had the same name.

The group released its first album, “Do You Want More?!!!??!” in 1994, with Black Thought labeling the group’s music as organic hip hop jazz.

In 2009, The Roots became the house band for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and continued as Fallon’s house band when he became the host of “The Tonight Show” in 2014.

The other headline this year, Porter, is a native of Sacramento who grew up in Bakersfield. A high school football player, Porter attended San Diego State on a football scholarship but a shoulder injury ended his career in 1989.

He relocated to Brooklyn in 2004 and launched his singing career a few years later, His first album was released in 2010. He won a Grammy for best jazz vocal album in 2014 for “Liquid Spirit” and won the same award in 2017 for “Take Me to the Alley.”

Also appearing at this year’s jazz festival will be Tower of Power, jazz drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington with Social Science, Nigerian superstar Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, guitarist Cory Wong, jazz trumpeter, composer and producer Chief aTunde Adjuah, José James performing the music of the late Bill Withers, singer Veronica Swift, bluesman Fantastic Negrito, vocalist Carmen Lundy, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton, pianist and saxophonist Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, jazz saxophonist Azar Lawrence with the Azar Lawrence Experience, the Latin rhythms of Jungle Fire, the Lao Tizer Band, the L.A. County High School for the Arts Jazz Band and the LAUSD/Beyond the Bell All-City Jazz Big Band.

Comedian Arsenio Hall will serve as this year’s festival host, assuming the role long held by Bill Cosby and then George Lopez. Hall an actor and talk show host, is an avid fan of jazz.

The Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival is produced in association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic by FestivalWest, Inc.

Tickets are still available.


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