Concert-goers get to shift back in time to the sounds of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s swing, big band, classic jazz and traditional blues, as well as New Orleans and Chicago-style jazz at the 11th annual Sweet & Hot Jazz Festival Labor Day Weekend.
The festival features surviving performers from the bygone musical era, such as Duke Ellington alumnus “Bronze Buckaroo” Herb Jeffries, as well as musicians who were heavily influenced by the sounds of that time period who emerged in subsequent decades, such as singer Yve Evans.
The Sweet & Hot Music Festival is a way to jazz up Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday, September 1st to 4th, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel, 5855 Century Blvd., Westchester. The music starts at 10:30 a.m. in eight different locations throughout the hotel and continues past midnight each day of the festival. There is also a special Walk of Fame event Thursday night, August 31st.
This year’s lineup of performers includes Clark Terry, Ernie Andrews, Herb Jeffries, Jack Sheldon, Harry Allen, Warren Vache, Bucky Pizzarelli, Red Holloway, Howard Alden, John Allred, Banu Gibson, Rebecca Kilgore, The Jennifer Leitham Trio and the Fat Sams Band. In total, about 200 musicians will perform with 20 bands and 50 guest artists in 180 festival events.
Swing dancing and other jazz-era activities accompany the live music. The Friday night “Swing’s the Thing” dance and the “Saturday Night Dance” with Johnny Vana’s “Big Band Alumni” orchestra with guest host Chuck Cecil of The Swingin’ Years will be featured.
The Sweet & Hot Festival is also a chance for collectors of rare records and jazz memorabilia to enhance their collections.
Headlining this year’s festival is Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist Clark Terry. In his career, spanning more than sixty years, Terry has recorded with legendary ensembles including The Duke Ellington Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra; and jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday.
One of the highlights of the festival will be the return appearance of the Hues Corporation and the popular songs the group performs from “The Great American Rhythm and Soul Song Book.” Hues Corporation performs hits from Gladys Knight, Sam Cook, The Temptations and others, as well as the group’s own hit song, “Rock the Boat.”
R&B flavor can also be heard throughout the repertoire of the group Pieces of Eight.
Festival regular Yve Evans will play piano and sing a mixture of blues, ballads and novelty songs, as she presents her smooth style and commentary to the audience. Evans also plans to host a special performance of all the divas at the festival performing together.
A new highlight this year will be a performance by Sonny LaRosa’s America’s Youngest Jazz Band, adding a much younger generation of jazz players to the mix of festival performers. The group consists of 26 boys and girls between six and 13 years old. The group comes from Florida and is one of the youngest bands to perform at Preservation Jazz Hall in New Orleans. The group’s repertoire is comprised of jazz classics.
Jazz and Western film crossover Herb Jeffries, a regular at Sweet & Hot, has been invited back again this year. Early in his career, Jeffries, who is African-American, made it his goal to become the first “black Western star” and gain the same acclaim and respect as Caucasian cowboy heroes of the silver screen such as Gene Autry or Roy Rogers.
Jeffries succeeded in landing a starring role in the 1938 film The Bronze Buckaroo, a title that has stuck as his nickname ever since.
Show organizers, the Sweet & Hot Music Foundation, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to perpetuating the music of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. In addition to producing the festival each year, the foundation encourages young musicians to take an interest in that period’s styles of music by offering scholarship grants from festival proceeds to various jazz education programs that benefit Los Angeles area high school students.
The foundation began honoring legends in classic jazz when it originated in 1996, by placing permanent bronze plaques with their names in the ground surrounding the pool and garden area at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. To date, the names of 56 jazz legends have been placed around the pool, known as the Sweet & Hot Music Walk of Fame, featuring such greats from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Cole Porter, Lionel Hampton and Billie Holiday.
Six more jazz legends will be added to the Walk of Fame during a music-filled two hour show Thursday night, August 31st. Walk of Fame inductee Clark Terry will be honored by his fans and fellow musicians at this year’s ceremony. Tickets to the Walk of Fame event are $20.
For the four-day festival, ticket prices are $35 for Friday; $45 each for Saturday and Sunday; and $25 for Monday. A pass for the entire four-day festival is $95.
Information, (310) 641-5700 or www.sweethot.org