Labor Day Weekend becomes a musical time warp back 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 12th annual Sweet & Hot Music Festival in Westchester.
The festival features vintage players of the bygone musical eras of big bands, swing, and hot jazz, such as Duke Ellington alumnus “Bronze Buckaroo” Herb Jeffries, along with musicians who were heavily influenced by the sounds of that time period who emerged in subsequent decades, such as singer/ pianist Yve Evans.
The Sweet & Hot Music Festival is a way to jazz up Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday, August 31st to September 3rd, 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 with live music on Thursday night, August 30th.
This year’s lineup of performers includes Herb Jeffries, Ernie Andrews, Jack Sheldon, The Mills Bros. (starring John Mills with Elmer Hopper), Howard Alden, Yve Evans, Banu Gibson, Wesla Whitfield, James TormÈ (son of the late Mel TormÈ) Rebecca Kilgore, The Hues Corporation, Jennifer Leitham Trio, Marilyn King’s “Tribute to the King Sisters,” B.E.D. and Sax to the Max. In total, about 200 musicians will perform with 20 bands in 180 festival events including four dance floors.
Swing dancing and other jazz-era activities accompany the live music.
This year, a special emphasis has been placed on increasing the number of dance events, promoters say.
Special festival dance events include Johnny Vana’s “Big Band Alumni” with Swingin’ Years guest host Chuck Cecil; “Swing’s the Thing” with the Jonathan Stout Orchestra; “Seventies Party” with The Hues Corporation; “Blues a Plenty” with Louis Thomas; and Mora’s Modern Rhythmists exploring dance music of the 1920s.
The Sweet & Hot Festival is also a chance for collectors of rare records and jazz memorabilia to enhance their collections.
One of the highlights of the festival will be the return appearance of the Hues Corporation, a group that 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.
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.
The show organizer, 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 started 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 62 jazz legends have been placed around the pool, known as the Sweet & Hot Music Walk of Fame, featuring such greats as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Cole Porter, Lionel Hampton and Billie Holiday.
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/.