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Playboy Jazz update: Major artists added

Blanchard, Miller, Keys, Allen Dancers join June 14-15 Hollywood Bowl lineup

Posted: June 12, 2008 4:42 p.m.
Updated: August 13, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Bassist/bandleader Marcus Miller joins the stellar talent lineup this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Playboy Jazz Festival.

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HOLLYWOOD -- The 30th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival has added more talent to the already stellar lineup slated to perform at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend.

Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and bassist Marcus Miller, both Grammy-winning artists, have been added as special guests, as well as vocalist Amy Keys, popular artist/producer/DJ C-Minus and 41 student dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, who received a two-minute standing ovation after last October's tribute to Herbie Hancock at the Kodak Theatre.

Blanchard, to perform Saturday with The James Moody Quartet, is an internationally renowned jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger. His score for HBO's four-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" formed the basis of his Grammy-winning 2007 album "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)."

In a set that will be seen only on the Hollywood Bowl stage on Sunday, Miller, D.J. C-Minus and the Allen Academy dancers will join 2008 "Album of the Year" Grammy winner Herbie Hancock for a special performance of the pianist's 1983 hit "Rockit."

A versatile composer, producer and multi instrumentalist for the past three decades, Miller is best-known for his longterm associations with Miles Davis, Luther Vandross and David Sanborn. Miller's latest CD, "Marcus," features guest appearances by Corinne Bailey Rae and Keb' Mo', who is also performing his own set on Sunday's show.

"It's kind of eclectic but unified at the same time," Miller said of the album. "My big thing is to try to bring all these musical styles together. Being from New York, where so many cultures come together, it's pretty natural for me to do that. I'm just trying to extend that into music and bring that to the people."

Miller will also host the first-ever Playboy Jazz Cruise (featuring Hancock as special guest), scheduled to set sail Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 2009 on a Caribbean cruise as the finale to the festival's 30th Anniversary celebration this year.

An artist, producer, and touring DJ, C-Minus has worked with and/or opened for everyone from Wu-Tang Clan, the Foo Fighters, and Moby to Korn, Johnny Cash, Blink 182, Metallica, Green Day, Kid Rock and Kanye West.

Vocalist Amy Keys, who has been added to Hancock's River of Possibilities tour, will also perform with the keyboard legend on Sunday.

Her extensive touring credits include k.d. lang, Joe Cocker, Tears For Fears, Kevin Spacey ("Beyond the Sea" tour), Michael Bolton and Philip Bailey.

New to the Playboy Jazz Festival this year is a photo montage showcasing rare photos from the Playboy archives featuring legendary performers from the past 29 years, to be screened before and after each day's lineup.

Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder and festival executive producer, is excited about this year's lineup, especially Hancock.

"We're so proud of him and proud of what (his success) means about the longevity of jazz," Hefner told The Signal. "They've been announcing the death of jazz for the last two decades and it is alive and well here, and in many other places around the world."

Still, Hefner's amazed the Playboy Jazz Festival is now 30 years old, and getting bigger every year.

"I used the festival as a celebration of Playboy's fifth anniversary in Chicago in 1959, and it was an unforgettable weekend of jazz, never to be repeated," he said.

"Then we got to the 25th anniversary of Playboy in 1979 and we were (based in Los Angeles), and I decided to do the same thing," Hefner said. "We did it at the Hollywood Bowl with the notion that it would be a one-time event. It proved to be extremely popular and so supported by the community that it became an annual event, and here we are 30 years later. Unbelieveable!"

For more info about the Playboy Jazz Festival and ticket availability, call the festival hotline at (310) 450-1173 or visit www.playboyjazz.com.

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