The ninth annual Sweet & Hot Music Festival, a tribute to the jazz sounds of the 1920s to the 1940s, is scheduled for Friday through Monday, September 3rd to 5th, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel, 5855 Century Blvd., Westchester.
Performance times are 10:30 a.m. to around midnight each day. Tickets are $30 Friday, $43 Saturday, $43 Sunday, and $20 Monday. A four-day festival pass is $80.
The performances will take place in eight separate rooms in the hotel.
Swing, big band, classic jazz, traditional blues and New Orleans- and Chicago-style jazz are the sounds that make up the Sweet & Hot Music Festival.
The festival features tribute acts, modern acts influenced by the sound of the period and even a few old-timers from that era.
This year’s event includes performances by Herb Jeffries, Jack Sheldon, Banu Gibson, Ernie Andrews, Rebecca Kilgore, Howard Alden, Hues Corporation, Pieces of Eight and Yoshio Toyama.
In addition to the featured acts, there will be a “Friday Night Swing Dance/Battle of the Bands” competition, and a “Saturday Night Dance” featuring Johnny Vana’s Big Band Alumni and guest host Chuck Cecil.
About 180 musicians, 20 bands and 40 guest artists will be featured at Sweet & Hot, promoters say.
“The name Sweet & Hot is a salute to the bands of the ’20s and ’30s who played ësweet’ dance music or ëhot’ jazz-based music,” says festival director Wally Holmes. “Of course, many of the famous bands of the era played both.”
There will be an open dance floor for guests interested in swing dancing, and oldies records and nostalgic memorabilia will be sold at the event.
Hues Corporation is a featured headliner at this year’s event. The ensemble plans to do a performance of songs from The Great American Rhythm & Soul Song Book. The group sings favorites from Gladys Knight, Sam Cook and The Temptations, as well as their own hit song, “Rock the Boat.”
Jazz and Western film crossover Herb Jeffries, a regular at Sweet & Hot, is scheduled to return this year. Early in his career Jeffries, who has African-American ancestry, 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. He succeeded in landing a starring role in the 1938 film The Bronze Buckaroo, a title that has stuck as his nickname ever since.
Even prior to his days in film, Jeffries had taken steps toward pursuing a career in big band jazz. In 1939, he landed a gig singing and touring with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Jeffries is most well known for his lead vocals on the 1941 Ellington hit, “Flamingo.” He also released a tribute album, The Duke and I, around what would have been the 100th birthday of Ellington.
Festival favorite Yve Evans will play piano and sing a mixture of blues, ballads and novelties in her set of music and commentary.
Blues pianist and singer Evans has been a musician since childhood. She has performed with Ernie Andrews, Ella Fitgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, June Christie, Mahalia Jackson, Della Reese, Bobby Darin and Rosemary Clooney.
She has released five CDs, and prefers releasing recordings of live performances, rather than studio recordings.
The festival was started by the nonprofit Sweet & Hot Music Foundation as an attempt to preserve the dying popular music forms of the first half of the 20th century. Organizers set aside a portion of the proceeds from the event to fund scholarships for high school students looking to pursue traditional jazz, blues and swing music as a profession.
The Sweet & Hot Music Foundation was started by festival director Holmes. Holmes, a trumpeter, performs each year at the festival with his band the Yankee Wailers.
Holmes began playing jazz while attending San Diego High School in 1946. At that time, he played in a band that would perform for World War II service men and women, because many older musicians were off to war, Holmes says.
In 1956, he went to Las Vegas and stayed there for several years, working as a performer.
Holmes eventually developed the group Hues Corporation, for which he penned several hits, including “Rock the Boat.”
He became active with the Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival in 1987, which featured about 200 performers and 50 groups playing big band, swing and traditional jazz of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. He worked as director of that festival for several years. There he gained experience that he eventually used to organize the Sweet & Hot Music Festival.
Each year since the Sweet & Hot festival began in 1996, organizers have taken time out from the music to honor classic jazz legends. The foundation places permanent bronze plaques with the names of the honorees inscribed in the grounds surrounding the pool area of the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel.
The array of plaques is known as the Sweet & Hot Music Walk of Fame.
To date, the names of 38 jazz legends have been inducted poolside, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Cole Porter, Lionel Hampton and Billie Holiday.
This year, the total will reach 50 as 12 more honorees are expected to be inducted.
One of the honorees, legendary jazz flutist Buddy Collette, will be honored during a special Sweet & Hot preview show Thursday, September 2nd.
Admission to the preview event is $10.
Information, (310) 641-5700.