Our pick of five acts not to miss at this weekend's Playboy Jazz Festival, Miles Mosley and Kenny Garrett among them

Our pick of five acts not to miss at this weekend's Playboy Jazz Festival, Miles Mosley and Kenny Garrett among them
Miles Mosley performs at the Playboy Jazz Festival on Sunday. His "Uprising" album was released Jan. 27. (Aaron Woolf Haxton)

The Playboy Jazz Festival, now in its 39th year, is a little like the weather in parts of the country that actually have such a thing: If you don't like what you see, wait 20 minutes.

That's not a knock on the festival's quality, which for each year has reliably drawn from multiple corners of jazz – straight-ahead, smooth, Latin and funk – as well as R&B, rock and hip-hop as it has seen fit.


This year, in addition to Common, Marcus Miller and a blues summit between Keb' Mo' and Taj Mahal, the festival again paints with a wide brush to fulfill its long-held legacy as this city's biggest summer block party, which this year will again be hosted by George Lopez.

Here are five more artists to watch.

The Kenny Garrett Quintet with JazzAntiqua dance ensemble, Sunday

A saxophonist whose prodigious talent and track record are somehow too easily taken for granted, Garrett has been an artist to watch since his debut in the mid-'80s. His 2016 album, "Do Your Dance!," was another barn-burner in a deeply grooved collection with a band that included powerhouse L.A. drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., a rising star whose debut album, "Triumph," stands among the year's best. Here Garrett will continue to explore the meeting point of music and movement in a debut collaboration with another local favorite: JazzAntiqua's dance ensemble.

Miles Mosley and the West Coast Get Down, Sunday

Mosley's new album, "Uprising," is — like Bruner's — a tributary that branched from the marathon L.A. recording sessions that yielded Kamasi Washington's 2015 breakthrough "The Epic." In place of the spiritually charged jazz catharsis of that album is a collection of compact, jazz-leaning psychedelic soul driven by many of "The Epic's" same moving parts, with Mosley's churning upright bass — and his voice — at the center. There hasn't been a genre-splicing Jimi Hendrix of the bass since Jaco Pastorius, but if anyone in 2017 is capable of powering the lower end into those heights at the Hollywood Bowl, it's Mosley.

Hudson, Saturday

Forged in part by shared love of an area each of its members calls home — the Hudson River Valley in New York — this supergroup of Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Larry Grenadier and John Medeski is a sort of a living celebration of DeJohnette's 75th birthday last year. Anchored by the percussion master's deep sense of groove and co-anchored by a pair of frequent collaborators in Scofield's barbed guitar and Medeski's bottomless bag of sonic tricks behind a keyboard, the quartet draws from an agreeably simmering, jam-friendly songbook that includes songs by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and the Band.

Bobby Hutcherson Tribute with Stefon Harris, Roy Ayers, Warren Wolf, Saturday

With nods to Elvin Jones (led by Carl Allen) and Al Jarreau (courtesy of his longtime collaborator Marcus Miller), this year's festival tilts rather heavily toward tributes. This one, dedicated to the man who reshaped the vibraphone in the context of jazz, promises to be a memorable one as well in the hands of some of Hutcherson's disciples and led by Harris, whose track record of innovation on albums like "Black Action Figure," "Ninety Miles" and "Urbanus" walks a musical path that is similarly hard to pin down.

Corinne Bailey Rae, Saturday

Although Gregory Porter may be the most headline-grabbing vocalist on the bill (a couple of Grammys will do that) and Lalah Hathaway's already crowded résumé gets another bump of au courant jazz cred with a recent run of collaborations with Robert Glasper and Snarky Puppy, this vocalist should not be overlooked. Her 2016 album on Blue Note, "The Heart Speaks in Whispers," was an underrated gem, girded by her nimble vocals and contributions from Esperanza Spalding and L.A. R&B favorites King. Probably best known for the 2010 golden hour hit "Put Your Records On," Bailey Rae has gone through some changes since those days — and haven't we all.

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