To lounge outdoors, on a summer day or night among friends and loved ones, listening to some of the best live music that Los Angeles has to offer, that’s the very experience that the Long Beach Jazz Festival brings annually to music fans. This is the festival’s 33rd year and it’s coming right up, Aug. 12 to 14. The celebrated event is the only Southern California jazz festival staged on a gorgeous grassy knoll within a beautiful waterfront setting.
Featuring an eclectic line-up ranging from jazz to classic R&B, the festival features top artists of the year as well as luminaries that remain the standard-bearers of jazz. This year’s lineup is testament to that. It includes headliners; Robert Glasper ft. Terrace Martin, Ledisi, Avery*Sunshine, Justin-Lee Schultz, Average White Band, Gerald Albright, Jonathan Butler, BK Jackson, Sergio Mendez, Damion Escobar, Eric Darius and Kandace Springs.
The Al Williams Jazz Society is a group of accomplished jazz musicians: Director Dr. George Shaw (trumpeter, composer), established the Long Beach City College jazz studies program. Keyboardist Ron Kobayasi (pianist, composer) has performed and recorded with a variety of artists including Tom Scott, Mel Torme, Teddy Edwards and Peter White. Henry “The Skipper” Franklin (bassist) long-time friend and jazz great, has for a long time been in demand to tour internationally. He can be heard on more than 100 albums — and two-dozen as a leader. He was the bassist on Hugh Masekela’s Platinum hit “Grazing in the Grass” and The Skipper has performed with Count Basie, Roy Ayers, Hampton Hawes, Al Jarreau and others. Doug Webb (saxophone, flute) in his career has performed and or recorded with jazz vanguards, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Quincy Jones, Stanley Clarke among many others. Anthony (Tony) Poingsett (percussion, congas) has performed extensively in Las Vegas. He has also enjoyed performing on stage with Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles.
The Al Williams Jazz Society has regularly appeared at beloved SoCal jazz venues including The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach and Spaghettini Italian Grill and Jazz Club in Seal Beach.
As a very special treat, the Al Williams Jazz Society will feature a salute to “The Queen,” Barbara Morrison, who, sadly, the music world lost on March 16, 2022. Barbara was a dear friend to Al Williams and his band as well as The Long Beach Jazz Festival.
Williams told Random Lengths News that Barbara appeared regularly with The Al Williams Jazz Society at the Jazz Sunrise Service — indeed at sunrise — in the City of Carson annually for the Easter holiday. Williams’ band continued her legacy this past April at the sunrise service, which included one of the band’s regularly featured vocalists, Alexis Joy.
The Al Williams Jazz Society salute to Barbara will happen near 2 p.m. Sunday, featuring vocalist Hope Diamond, who will perform some of Barbara’s numbers. And in honor of her legacy, videos of some of Barbara’s iconic performances will be featured on the festival’s big screen.
The Al Williams Jazz Society will also feature a few tunes from Then & Now, its latest release.
Described in its liner notes as a collection of songs that are both familiar and new, Then & Now is presented masterfully by Al Williams Jazz Society to illustrate both the timelessness and evolution of the experience we call jazz. Tracks of note include the expansive and soothing Desert Trippin’ and for straight-ahead “heads” dive into Blakey’s Delight. The polished shine of Society Al hits you like a perfect cup of Joe — steaming and percolating — it coaxes your body to rise up and groove to these fresh beats.
Opening for The Al Williams Jazz Society will be percussionist, composer, arranger, producer and four-time Grammy-winner Munyungo Jackson. His credits are vast in both recording and performing and they all culminate in the music of his latest album Morning Sun, which weaves rhythms from Africa, South America, the Caribbean Islands, Cuba and America.
Another notable appearance on Friday night’s lineup will be Grammy Award-winning Robert Glasper featuring Terrace Martin.
Glasper is a jazz pianist with a skill for mellow, harmonically complex compositions that also incorporate subtle hip-hop influences. The musician hails from Texas, where he attended Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts. Glasper continued his music studies at the New School University in Manhattan. The Robert Glasper Experiment issued its first stand-alone album, Black Radio, for Blue Note, which sought to blur the boundaries between jazz, hip-hop, R&B and rock & roll. It entered the jazz chart at number one and went on to win a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
A three-time Grammy-nominated artist/producer/multi-instrumentalist from the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, Terrace Martin is renowned as being one of the top jazz musicians in the world. His noteworthy production has included major collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock and many other influential artists.
Health & Wellness Pavilion
The festival’s annual feature promises to bring audiences inspirational and expert wellness speakers and leaders, treatment centers, vendors and healthy food sampling stations at Marina Green Park.
Everyone who attends the festival will have the opportunity to come away with tools for a healthier way of living. To help people feel energized, focused, de-stressed and to enjoy an overall sense of pleasure, areas of interest that will be promoted at this event include: healthcare providers, organic and healthy foods, products and lifestyle.
The event also includes VIP seating with the option to rent a cabana during your festival experience. As always, the Long Beach Jazz Festival will offer a great selection of food, art, textiles and much more.
33rd Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival
Time: 6 to 10 p.m., Aug. 12 through Aug. 14
Cost: $85 and up
Venue: Rainbow Lagoon Park, 400 E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach