Playboy Fest Plays It Safe Again


Same old, same old--that’s one way of looking at the June 13-14 line-up for the 14th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. For yet another year, there’s a little something for everyone, with artists ranging from the Manhattan Transfer and bluesman B. B. King to singer Joe Williams and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.

The play-it-safe concept is hard to knock. The Playboy festival, which is produced by George Wein for Festival Productions, has sold out every year since its inception in 1979.

“Hey, I’m not messing with this formula,” said associate producer Darlene Chan, who selected the line-up. “What’s that saying . . . ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’ ”

As Los Angeles’ jazz event of the year, the festival, which this year is presented in cooperation with the L.A. Philharmonic Assn., would always attract a sizable crowd. But Chan says it wouldn’t sell out if she exclusively scheduled lesser names or a more experimental lineup instead of booking guaranteed crowd-pleasers such as the Transfer and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.


Still, along with the predictable artists, there are some surprises, like a reunion of the Brecker Brothers, that ace, mid ‘70s funk-jazz band led by Michael and Randy Brecker; 80-year-old Mario Bauza’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra; and the New York Jazz Giants, with Tom Harrell, Mulgrew Miller, Lew Tabackin and Jon Faddis.

The complete line-up for June 13: B. B. King; Michael Franks; the Yellowjackets; Joe Williams; the Playboy Jazz All-Stars with Kenny Burrell, Red Holloway, Jimmy Smith, Grady Tate and Clark Terry; Billy Cobham with Ernie Watts; the Clayton-Hamilton band; T-Square; and Manteca.

Appearing on June 14: Manhattan Transfer; Grover Washington Jr.; Diane Schuur with the Count Basie Orchestra, led by Frank Foster; the Brecker Brothers; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; the New York Jazz Giants, with Bobby Watson, Ray Drummond, Harrell, Faddis, et al.; Mario Bauza; T. S. Monk.; and the winning big band from the Western States Jazz Festival.

The emcee for the festival is again Bill Cosby. Tickets, priced from $10 to $25, are available by mail. Boxes are already sold out. Information: (310) 450-9040.


Rim Shots: The Jazz Caravan, with trombonist Thurman Green, trumpeter Al Aarons and others will serenade participants in the L.A. Marathon on Sunday, 11 a.m.-noon, at the race’s Mile 19, located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue. . . . “The Soul of Jazz,” featuring archival photographs by Ray Avery, Bob Douglas and others, continues through March 22 at Black Gallery, 107 Santa Barbara Plaza.