One measure of jazz's influence since its birth over a century ago can be found on the bill of the annual Playboy Jazz Festival, which has announced the first batch of artists on its 2019 lineup.
Taking place June 8-9 at the Hollywood Bowl, this year's roster will feature a collection of globetrotting musicians who maneuver through genre and style as dexterously as Charlie Parker moved along his saxophone keys.
Presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the 41st Playboy Jazz Festival will spotlight artists including includes Beninese singer and songwriter Angelique Kidjo, banjo master Bela Fleck and his Flecktones, soul/blues rocker Boz Scaggs, the influential funk saxophone player (and James Brown collaborator) Maceo Parker and his Big Band, and West African griot and kora player Sona Jobarteh.
Also on the bill is band-leading percussionist Sheila E. While the Prince friend and collaborator was a familiar presence in the mid-1980s thanks to tunes like "The Glamorous Life" and "Erotic City," she first made a name for herself in the Bay Area playing with her father, percussionist Pete Escovedo, and other jazz musicians.
As with last year, the concert will be hosted by comedian George Lopez.
Each year, the Playboy Jazz Fest reignites this familiar question: Is this all "jazz"? That depends where you are on the continuum. Conservative listeners might bemoan a lack of classic jazz ensembles, but the festival has long been open to traveling the genre's many tributaries.
The connection? A love of improvisation that celebrates the mysterious synapses connecting practiced intent and untethered inspiration .And as The Times noted in its review of the 2018 edition, “The Playboy Jazz Festival is an always reliable weekend of diverse entertainment, and the sheer volume of talent presented in two days is unrivaled in this town.”
The lineup, which also includes Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa and Benny Golson's 90th Birthday Quartet, will see further additions on Feb. 5. Tickets go on sale March 5; subscription holders will be sent order forms starting Tuesday, Jan. 8.