Legendary artists Betty Bryant and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra are among the dozens of performers taking the stage at the 23rd Annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival scheduled July 28-29.
For more than two decades, the free music festival has been a staple for the South Los Angeles community, celebrating the region’s rich cultural past and turning the spotlight on what was once considered the heart of the Jazz scene. Held along Central Avenue between King Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, the citywide signature event features back-to-back concerts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on three stages throughout the weekend. This year’s lineup includes a wide array of musicians.
Saturday, July 28
The Myron McKinley Trio is headlined by a prolific pianist, producer, songwriter, programmer and film score composer for large box office films and television shows. Born and reared in Los Angeles and a University of Southern California alumni, McKinley is the current music director and keyboardist of the legendary “Earth, Wind & Fire.”
The Pete Escovedo Orchestra features the sought-after percussionist who broke down the barriers between smooth jazz-salsa-latin jazz and contemporary music. His name has been synonymous in the music industry for more than 40 years. Boogaloo Assassins are a Los Angeles-based, 12-piece Latin band with a sound and style inspired by the Latin boogaloo, latin soul, salsa and latin funk records of the 1960s and 70s.
Kátia Moraes and Brazilian Hearts includes Brazilian singer/songwriter/educator/producer Kátia Moraes who began her career in Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s with the band O Espírito da Coisa. Betty Bryant is a native of Kansas City, Mo. and has been dubbed “Cool Miss B” by her fans and fellow musicians. She is a revered pianist/singer who brings a solid piano technique, a light, swinging touch and a skilled vocal approach to her music. TC Carson is a jazz vocalist, voiceover artist and actor best known for his portrayal of the debonair Kyle Barker on the hit sitcom “Living Single.”
Sunday, July 29
The Tierney Sutton Band includes an eight-time Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist. The New York Times wrote: “A serious jazz artist who takes the whole enterprise to another level.”
The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is a two-time Granmy winning salsa and latin jazz band sets the standard for excellence for authentic, New York-style, hard core salsa. The Connie Han Trio is popularly known for her debut Mack Avenue Records album “Crime Zone,” and features “next-generation pianist Connie Han known for an edgy blend of new and old jazz.
Francisco Torres Latin Jazz Band features the trombonist and musical director for the Grammy-Award winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band. Torres hails from the state of Sonora, Mexico but calls Los Angeles home. Gretchen Parlato has been described by Herbie Hancock as “a singer with a deep, almost magical connection to the music.”
Roy Gaines Tuxedo Blues promises some of the best blues in the music industry. Gaines has toured and recorded with blues greats like Chuck Willis and Ray Charles and has done with legends like Bobby Blue Bland and Junior Parker.
“For this festival, we wanted to present a special program unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr., who hosts the fan favorite event in Council District 9. “It was important to me that we pay homage to the traditional sounds and historical predecessors while integrating other genre influences. This fusion allows us to connect with our devoted jazz enthusiasts while generating a wider appeal and drawing in new fans who will ensure that this continues to be one of the biggest and best jazz festivals in the nation.”
Each year, the Central Avenue Jazz Festival draws tens of thousands of people from across the U.S. In addition to live performances by world-class favorites and up-and-coming artists, the revered summer event features four pavilions, including one focused on the arts; a Balfour Beatty health and wellness pavilion; the GRoW @ Annenberg youth pavilion; and another providing information on business and employment services. Dozens of merchants and food vendors will be available all weekend.
For more information, including a complete schedule of performances, visit www.centralavejazzfest.com.