L.A. Jazz Festival Review - Rythm & Romance Meets Funk


Shiela E

Hollywood, CA (July 26, 2008) - The L.A. Jazz Festival at the Greek Theater was a night under the stars to remember as the audience moved and swayed to the mellow sounds of Kenny G, Brian Culbertson, Lila Hathaway, Will Downing, The Escovedo Family & Sheila E.

Kenny G

The spotlight searched the audience and eventually spots Kenny G entering the Greek from the back upper level,  bringing the audience to its feet as he held the C note for over 45 seconds while making  his way down the stairs to the stage, joining his band of talented musicians that have accompanied him for over 25 years including Vail Johnson on Bass guitar, Senor Daniel Bejarino on Drums, Ron Powell, Percussionist and John Raymond on Guitar.                       .

Kenny G was joined by the magnificent Stevie Wonder who had interviewed Kenny on his Thursday morning show at KJLH Radio days prior and accompanied Kenny in a duet of harmonica and sax , playing “Besame Mucho,” that was awesome. Kenny G introduced the arrangement from his new CD entitled Rhythm & Romance, the Latin Album. The mixture of the two sounds was certainly full of Rhythm & Romance. The new CD, Rhythm & Romance, which I purchased and can’t stop listening to has a Latin flair and includes “Sax-O-Loco,” “Sabor A Mi,” “Tango,” “Mirame Bailar,” Peruvian Nights,” “Brasilia,” and   my favorite “Besame Mucho”   that was performed and swayed the audience on this cool night under the stars. He culminated his performance giving away a gorgeous sax, one of which Kenny G manufactured, to a member of the audience.

Stevie Wonder

Brian Culbertson settled  the audience into a mellow mood on sax as he played, “Love of Me” leaving the stage to serenade a lovely woman that swayed in delight and fanning herself to gain her composure. His eleven man band was definitely a hit and included a percussionist that was one of the most talented that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing perform as he circled inside of his instruments of drums, congas, sembles,   and various other instruments of sound.

Lalah Hathaway

Culbertson continued to raise the tempo as the red lights dimmed and drums beat as he presented a display of every kind of funk, swaying and grinding in sequined jeans and matching t-shirt, hips moving side to side as he played the keyboard backwards, I mean with his back to the audience as they, especially the women cheered to this unusual event, moving from keyboard to trumpet. Culbertson played arrangements from his new CD, “Bringing Back the Funk,” produced by Maurice White with his guitarist formerly with the group Earth, Wind & Fire, Sheldon Reynolds. “Hey, Hey, Hey, What you Got to Say” brought back memories as Culbertson played the guitar as the audience sang “Hollywood Swinger,” and moving back to keyboard with, “Let Me Be Myself” and the 2nd record he produced in 1995 on the Modern Life CD, “Come to Me.”

















Culbertson’s new CD, “Bringing Back the Funk” brings together musicians to “play the way bands used to,”  creating music together with Rufus, Gerald Albright, Roney Laws, Larry Brown, Parliament, Bootsy Collins, Tower of Power and playing and arrangement from the CD, “You Got to Funkasize,” with Culbertson on keyboard and Wayne Bruce on guitar. Another member of the band, Maurice White, on guitar who played with Earth, Wind & Fire,” for over 15 years accompanied Culbertson in playing “Shining Star,” ‘Lets Groove Tonight,” “Do You Remember,” and “After The Love Has Gone,” to a dancing audience.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder livened up the stage asking,” are you ready?” as the audience yelled,”yes,” catching a laugh as he inquires, “Ready for what?” and introducing Will Downing to a standing ovation as Downing sang, “A Million Ways to Please a Woman.” Downing addressed the audience setting the tone for his next rendition, “Old school is classic soul kids, we shake the same… ideas shared in different ways like Lil Wayne says, “Lick you Like a Lolli Pop,” we might say “Kiss you from head to’ it’s the same thing just said differently. Downing sang,” Don’t Let it Go to Your Head Now,” and “Joy, Pain, Sunshine and Rain” and “After Tonight.









This was definitely another night to remember under the stars of the Greek Theater , enjoying  the sounds of the Cool Jazz Festival that was definitely, way cool.

For tickets and additional information including a calendar of events go to



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