The Roots, Lee Konitz lead the 2011 Playboy Jazz Festival


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The Playboy Jazz Festival announced the lineup for its 33rd annual concert on Thursday, offering its signature mix of mainstream jazz spiked with performers from across the spectrum of pop, blues and R&B.

In one of the festival’s boldest choices, the Philadelphia hip-hop band the Roots will team with trumpeter Terence Blanchard as one of the weekend’s co-headliners. Though not a jazz band by any stretch, the Roots’ air-tight live shows along with its chamelonic turns as house band for ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ should make for a memorable pairing. Vocalist Dianne Reeves, Chicago blues great Buddy Guy and smooth jazz group Fourplay are also among the headliners for the festival, happening June 11 and 12 at the Hollywood Bowl.


In more traditionally jazz-minded fare, fiery young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire will make his festival debut on the heels of his Blue Note Records debut coming this spring. In a more belated debut, 83-year-old alto saxophonist and ageless improvisor Lee Konitz will also perform with his young New Quartet. The Rebirth Brass Band, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and other Crescent City favorites will also perform in what’s billed as ‘A Night in Treme’ as the festival’s traditional nod toward the music of New Orleans.

Other performers include a guitar summit between John Scofield and Robben Ford and an Afro-funk tribute to James Brown featuring former bandleaders Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis joined by musicians from Africa. The talented SFJAZZ Collective featuring Stefon Harris and Greg Osby will take on the music of Stevie Wonder, and pianist Marian Petrescu will join Bill Cunliffe and the Resonance Big Band in a tribute to Oscar Peterson.

In keeping with festival tradition, high school big bands will open both days, and longtime emcee Bill Cosby will return as the weekend’s host. Full lineup is after the jump.

Saturday, June 11, 3 to 11 p.m. Dianne Reeves
The Roots
The Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra
SFJazz Collective (Featuring Stefon Harris, Avishai Cohen, Greg Osby, David Sanchez, Robin Eubanks, Edward Simon, Matt Penman and Eric Harland)
‘A Night in Treme’ (The Rebirth Brass Band and guest artists DonaldHarrison, Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Dr. Michael White and Big Sam Williams)
The Cos of Good Music (Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea)
Ambrose Akinmusire
The LAUSD All City High School Big Band

Sunday, June 12, 3 to 11 p.m.

Buddy Guy
Lee Konitz New Quartet
John Scofield and Robben Ford
Naturally 7
Harmony 3 (Ronnie Laws, Stanley Jordan and Walter Beasley)
Geri Allen and her Timeline Band
Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown (featuring Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and Vusi Mahlasela)
Bill Cunliffe and the Resonance Big Band: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson
Carlos Varela
Pullum High School Jazz Big Band

— Chris Barton