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Playboy Jazz Festival: Five acts not to miss at the Hollywood Bowl

Playboy Jazz Festival: Five acts not to miss at the Hollywood Bowl
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd onstage in Japan in 2013. (D. Darr)

If the temperatures are beginning to climb, then it must be Playboy Jazz Festival season again.

An L.A. staple that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the festival has scheduled a typically eclectic mix from the worlds of jazz, pop and R&B. As you join the parade of revelers (and their coolers) rolling up the Hollywood Bowl’s hill this weekend, here’s a selection of acts to be sure not to miss.

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Charles Lloyd & the Marvels with Lucinda Williams: When given an opportunity to catch an artist as distinctive as saxophonist Charles Lloyd, it’s best to make sure you’re not far from your seat. An expressive and searching artist who at the early heights of his career shared bills with the Grateful Dead, Lloyd has remained a restless figure ever since. His latest band, a nimble group that includes shape-shifting guitarist Bill Frisell, recently joined forces with the equally adventurous Williams for an upcoming album and — based on the few songs released so far, including a cover of Dylan’s “Masters of War” — fireworks can be expected. Sunday.

Kneebody: Forged nearly two decades ago with a longtime residency at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, this band merges jazz and rock with spacey electronics for a sound genre-blind sound. The band has since scattered around the country, but the quintet of saxophonist Ben Wendel, trumpeter Shane Endsley, keyboardist Adam Benjamin and the otherworldly rhythm section of Kaveh Rastegar and Nate Wood will make you think of Radiohead at one instant, Herbie Hancock’s electro-funk in the next. Sunday.

Snarky Puppy: A rollicking, Grammy-winning mix of jazz, R&B and funk with a rotating cast of 25 members, this band led by bassist Michael League doesn’t sit still long in terms of a musical style, but the results reliably keep its audience on the move as well. A likely candidate for getting the Bowl on its feet with a ready arsenal of irresistible grooves, it might be best to make sure you’ve cleared out your picnic before this band gets started. Saturday.

Hubtones: Freddie Hubbard’s 80th Birthday Celebration: The Playboy Jazz Festival — and jazz as a whole — has a reputation for tributes, and this celebration of Hubbard has packed a lineup of deft trumpeters who have followed in his footsteps. Bandleaders Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, David Weiss, Jeremy Pelt and Vicente Archer are among those on hand who will honor the late master, and while they’ll all recall Hubbard in some way, they won’t sound like one another either. Sunday.

The Miles Electric Band: In the late ’60s and ’70s, Miles Davis again changed music with albums like “A Tribute to Jack Johnson,” “In a Silent Way” and the landmark “Bitches Brew” — and in many ways the rest of the world still hasn’t quite caught up. Led by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, this Davis tribute has a lot of dark magic to try and recapture. Don’t bet against them. Saturday.

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Playboy Jazz Festival

Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.

When. Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m.

Cost: $22 to $195

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