Herbie Hancock will be the brightest name on the marquee for the 30th Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on June 14 and 15. The surprise winner of the album of the year Grammy for "River: The Joni Letters," his take on Joni Mitchell's music, the veteran jazz pianist-composer plans to bring an all-star ensemble that includes tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta to his headline appearance on Sunday's program.
The schedule for the festival, announced Wednesday at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, offers a virtually symmetrical lineup for each day. Unlike some past programming, it avoids a heavy emphasis on any single style in favor of a something-for-everyone array of artists.
Both days' schedules include a headliner or an all-star ensemble, a mainstream jazz group, a singer (or two), a big band, a Latin act, a smooth jazz/contemporary jazz band, a blues/funk group, an international artist and a high school ensemble.
Saturday, June 14:
The all-star ensemble is emcee Bill Cosby's annual collection of first-rate jazz artists, the Cos of Good Music, with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Billy Harper, bassist Dwayne Burno, drummer Ndugu Chancler, pianist Benny Green, keyboardist Jerry Peters and guitarist David T. Walker. The mainstream groups are the James Moody Quartet, with tenor saxophonist-flutist Moody, 82, making his first festival appearance as a leader, and pianist Robert Glasper's unique blend of straight-ahead jazz with contemporary pop elements.
The singer is Al Jarreau, whose latest album, "Love Songs," was released last month. And the big band -- in one of this year's most offbeat choices -- is the New York City-based female ensemble the Diva Jazz Orchestra, led by drummer Sherrie Maricle.
The Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band will be drawing from the group's latest CD pairing with Stax soul singer Eddie Floyd. Smooth jazz is covered by R n R, the Rick Braun and Richard Elliot band. The blues-R&B groups are the inimitable New Orleans keyboardist Dr. John's Lower 9/11, performing the groove-oriented jazz that he likes to call "fonk," and the high-energy, horn-driven Tower of Power.
The international artists -- Japanese keyboardist Hiromi and her group Sonicbloom -- blend rock energy, classical structures and jazz rhythms. And the youth ensemble is the Hamilton High School Academy of Music Jazz Ensemble "A," directed by Dan Taguchi.
Sunday, June 15:
Hancock is the headliner, and the mainstream group is drummer Ben Riley's take on Thelonious Monk, the Monk Legacy Septet. The vocal slot is devoted to a pair of Grammy-nominated singers: Dee Dee Bridgewater (nominated for her album "Red Earth: A Malian Journey") and R&B singer Ryan Shaw (nominated for the song "I Am Your Man").
Trumpeter Roy Hargrove's Big Band is the large jazz group, and on the Latin side, Puerto Rico's Plena Libre brings its blend of traditional plena and bomba rhythms with contemporary jazz and salsa. Guitars and Saxes -- consisting of Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber and Peter White -- is the smooth jazz/contemporary jazz entry, and Keb' Mo' adds the blues. Brazil's singer-songwriter Ivan Lins and guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves are the day's international pairing. And Sunday's programming gets underway with the music of the View Park Prep Jazz Ensemble, directed by Fernando Pullum.