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Playboy Jazz Festival presents free concerts Sunday and Friday

Tomorrow in Beverly Hills, Friday in Watts, 2 more in June

Posted: April 30, 2009 4:43 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:38 p.m.

Known for bringing the best of jazz to Southern California, the Playboy Jazz Festival will once again present its popular free community concert series throughout the greater Los Angeles area in May and June, starting this weekend with a concert at the Civic Center in Beverly Hills. 

Showcasing many of Los Angeles' top talents, the noted six-week community concert series (including the acclaimed "Jazz on Film" night) is staged in conjunction with the upcoming 31st annual Playboy Jazz Festival, Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Featuring everything from swing to salsa to straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, the free events will be held in Beverly Hills, Watts, Warner Center and Los Angeles.

"The response from the community to (the first Playboy Jazz Festival at the Bowl in 1978) was so overwhelming, we decided to do it again, and here we are all these years later, doing it as an annual event," said Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder and lifelong jazz fan. 

"As part of that, as a way of paying back the community, we set up these free events, and it's turned into ... something I'm very proud of," Hefner said.

The schedule at press time:

Playboy Jazz in Beverly Hills
Johnny Polanco Y Su Conjunto Amistad
Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza
450 North Rexford Drive
(between Santa Monica Boulevard and Burton Way)

The Playboy Jazz Festival will launch their free community concert series with the infectious Latin dance grooves of bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Polanco Y Su Amistad and the unique all-trombone straight ahead jazz band, Bonesoir, on Sunday, May 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.

The dynamic leader of the ultimate west coast Latin party band, Grammy-nominated, New York-born Polanco, a multi-talented, composer and arranger with Dominican and Puerto Rican roots, has earned a reputation for creating what local music writer Lina Lecara categorized as "the kind of infectious, rhythmic, multi-layered Latin music that makes even the most timid wallflower abandon all restraint and give it a whirl on the dance floor."

His latest recording, "Pa'l Bilador (For The Dancer)" on Los Angeles based Morrowland Records, epitomizes the innovative mix of tropical Latin dance rhythms and old-school Latin style music that Polanco is famous for.

Led by noted musician Maurice Spears, straight-ahead jazz group Bonesoir, which will open the show at 3 p.m., features five trombones and a rhythm section.

Each bandmember has an extensive background in a broad range of musical genres from festivals, theaters, clubs and concert halls to motion pictures, video and television. Bandmembers George Bohanon, Garnett Brown, Steve Baxter and Spears all showcase the trombone's versatility with sweet harmonies, lively melodies and solos marked by the members' individual styles.

"Our Beverly Hills concert has become a popular tradition as the kick-off for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival season," said Richard Rosenzweig, Playboy Jazz Festival president. "This year's roster of talent promises a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center's attractive outdoor performing arts venue in celebration of our 31st anniversary."

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Glass containers, alcoholic beverages and audio/video recorders are not permitted. Two free hours of parking are available at the Civic Center parking structure, adjacent to the Beverly Hills Public Library.

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 11 A.M.
L.A. Multi-School Jazz Band under the direction of Reggie Andrews
Bradley Senior Center, Watts
10957 South Central Ave., Watts

In the second event of Playboy's free community series, top young talent from the Los Angeles Multi-School Alumni Band will bring back big band swing and style when the Playboy Jazz Festival presents a free jazz concert in Watts, May 8 at the Bradley Senior Center from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Directed by Reggie Andrews, the traditional annual spring concert returns for another year showcasing the trademark swing sounds of the 1930s, featuring a variety of classic tunes and popular music from jazz sensations Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Gerald Wilson and more.

The Los Angeles Multi-School Alumni Band is comprised of exceptional young musicians who have graduated from local public and private schools.

"With great entertainment provided by some of the best young musicians in Los Angeles, a capacity audience of seniors and community friends take to the dance floor to show they've still ‘got that swing.' This is one dance party we all look forward to each year," said Richard Rosenzweig, Playboy Jazz Festival President.

Free parking for the concert is available in the center's parking lot. The Bradley Senior Center will serve lunch to its participating senior citizens.

Two more free Playboy Jazz Festival community concerts are coming up in June:

SUNDAY, JUNE 7. 2009 (time TBA)
Playboy Jazz at Warner Center Park
Diane Schuur, Susie Hansen, and Ed Shaughnessy
Warner Center Park, Lou Bredlow Pavilion, Woodland Hills

THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 7:30 P.M.
Jazz on Film at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
An evening of rare and often never-before-seen jazz footage and musical rarities hosted by noted jazz archivist Mark Cantor.


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