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2lst Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival

Kathy Williamson | 7/30/2008, 5 p.m.

Set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the Long Beach Jazz Festival returns to Rainbow Lagoon Park on Shoreline Drive in Long Beach on August 8-10.
The outdoor festival celebrates straight ahead and contemporary jazz, blues, R&B and neo-soul - something for all generations.
Founded by Al Williams and his band, the Al Williams Jazz Society, the event celebrates its' 21st year.
The 2008 lineup includes KEM, Michael Franks, Kirk Whalum, Poncho Sanchez, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Tom Browne, Wayne Henderson, Miki Howard, Keiko Matsui, Mindi Abair, Joyce Cooling, Commodores, Chrisette Michele, Down to the Bone, Nick Colionne, Euge Groove and a special appearance by Chef G. Garvin.
Old school music lovers will embrace Los Angeles' own legends, The Whispers and Commodores.
Our Weekly strolled down memory lane with The Whisper's Walter Scott. Twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott joined with friends Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson, and Gordy Harmon to form the group in 1963. By 1971 Harmon decided to leave the group and was replaced by Leaveil Degree. Sadly, Hutson passed away in 2000 and the group vowed to never replace him.
Our Weekly (OW): The Whispers have been entertaining for over four decades and, although you have international acclaim, the base for your devoted fans began right here in Los Angeles.
Walter Scott (WS): That's true. The Whispers were created in Watts. We went to Markham Middle School and Jordan High School and practiced after school.
OW: Women have always found a special connection with your lyrics. You seem to say the things that maybe they wished their men could verbalize.
WS: We are balladeers. The lyrics have to be credited to Nicholas.
OW: How is it different for you to perform in an open air setting as compared with an indoor concert hall?
WS: There is nothing like performing outdoors in the summer months. I think that we are more excited about performing at the Long Beach Jazz Festival than even the fans are!
OW: How is everybody's health?
(Leaveil had surgery in 2007 for heart disease and Walter had prostate surgery in 2004.)
WS: Everyone is doing just fine. We are lucky that we caught our problems early. I encourage everyone to have regular doctor examinations and know that early testing can save your life.
OW: How do you feel about the "old school" phenomenon?
WS: It's great. It connects generations and the young people are being educated in a way that's amazing.
As luck would have it, our interview abruptly ended with Tuesday's 5.4 earthquake.
The Whispers' latest release, "For Your Eyes Only," is another gem in a collection of music royalty. They are scheduled to perform on Saturday's festival lineup. With so many great hits, how can they ever leave the stage?
Tickets are available through Rainbow Promotions, LLC at (562) 424-0013, or online at Ticketmaster.com. For the Friday show, gates open at 5 p.m., with a show time of 7 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. For the Saturday and Sunday shows, gates open at 11 a.m. with show times from 12 noon until 10:30 p.m..
For more information regarding the Long Beach Jazz Festival and complete lineup and activities, go to: www.LongBeachJazzFestival.com, or www.RainbowPromotions.com. For more information on The Whispers, visit www.thewhispers.com.