Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Jazz : Long Beach Festival a Feeling of Deja Vu

August 15, 1994|BILL KOHLHAASE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Woodstock wasn't the only place for flashbacks last weekend. The Long Beach Jazz Festival at the city's Rainbow Lagoon Park had its share of deja vu, as many of the performers on the three-day bill made their third, fourth or even fifth appearance in the fest's seven-year history.

Among Friday's three acts, Keiko Matsui made her third Long Beach appearance and headliner Dianne Reeves was there for the fifth time. Saturday saw repeat performances from pianist Ramsey Lewis, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and vocalist Barbara Morrison. Perennial favorite Poncho Sanchez, who closed last year's Sunday edition, provided this year's second-day finale.

Surprisingly, it was the veteran Long Beach performers who carried the show Saturday, with first-timers Gato Barbieri, Bobby Caldwell and Oscar Brown Jr. delivering the weakest moments. Most disappointing was Barbieri, whose overtly macho tenor sounds fell as flat as a well-worn barroom come-on.

Barbieri's familiar, gravelly tone was applied to simple lines that built predictably into screams and caterwauls, broken only by simple trills and his own vocal exclamations. There was little subtlety in his play, and his set, coming at the hottest part of the afternoon, would have been a total wash had it not been for fine play from keyboardist Bill O'Connell and bassist Nielson Matta.

The day's hit was third-timer Ramsey Lewis' quartet, with its fine blend of jazz-funk and straight-ahead standards. Lewis, still a satisfying soloist, built improvisations from simple statements into harmonically rich, rhythmically enticing lines.

Also impressive were saxophonist Whalum, the Sanchez band, and blues and ballad vocalist Morrison.

The Long Beach Jazz Festival was scheduled to conclude Sunday with George Howard, Joe Williams, David Benoit, Tania Maria and others.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|