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Lavay Smith & Red-Hot Skillet Lickers, Bobby Rodriguez cook in 90210

Free Playboy Jazz community concert Sunday at Beverly Hills Civic Center

Posted: May 2, 2008 4:41 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Lavay Smith and her Red-Hot Skillet Lickers are set to cook Sunday at the Beverly Hills Civic Center in a free concert presented by the Playboy Jazz Festival.

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Steamy blues and swing band Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and sizzling Grammy-nominated Latin jazz trumpeter/bandleader Bobby Rodriguez will perform a free concert Sunday afternoon in Beverly Hills.

Staged by the Playboy Jazz Festival in cooperation with the city of Beverly Hills, concert is set for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Civic Center Plaza, 450 North Rexford Drive, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Burton Way.

It's the first in a series of free community concerts and events Playboy is presenting in conjunction with the 30th anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15 at the Hollywood Bowl.
Smith (considered the Diva of the Swing Scene) and her Skillet Lickers will perform a repertoire of classics associated with legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and more. The all-star band features four horns, guitar, piano and bass.

A sultry chanteuse often likened to Marilyn Monroe and Betti Page, Smith began attracting crowds and notoriety with the formation of her band in 1989. Her big, bluesy voice and provocative style evoke memories of another era when New Orleans jazz, blues, and boogie woogie were all the rage.

Inspired by artists such as Dinah Washington and Ray Charles, Smith will perform new material from her next album, to be released this summer, as well as classics such as "I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" and "It Don't Mean a Thing." When not touring internationally, Smith and her ensemble can be seen and heard at the Café du Nord in San Francisco, where they've appeared regularly for more than seven years.

A Grammy nominee with several platinum and gold records to his credit, Bobby Rodriguez has performed with artists such as Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Christina Aguilera, Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval and many other world-class artists. A charismatic performer, Rodriguez plays a sizzling salsa style that combines the best of traditional Latin rhythms with be-bop improvisation and today's contemporary sounds.

Performing material from his latest CD, "Celebration," Rodriguez's band will feature young up and coming musicians Max Haymer on piano and Ricky Hopkins on saxophone. The two are "some of the finest talent in Southern California," Rodriguez said.

"Our Beverly Hills concert has become a popular tradition as the kick-off for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival season," said Richard Rosenzweig, festival president. "This year's roster of talent promises a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center, an attractive outdoor performing arts venue, in celebration of our 30th anniversary."

Food and refreshments will be available for purchase to the public. Glass containers, alcoholic beverages and audio/video recorders are verboten. Two free hours of parking are available at the Civic Center parking structure, adjacent to the Beverly Hills Public Library.

For more information regarding the community concert series or the Playboy Jazz Festival, call the hotline at (310) 450-1173 or visit


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