The weather forecast for October 4 and 5, 2008 announced scattered showers, but it didn't dampen the spirit of the people in attendance. On the contrary, this forecast strengthened their determination to attend the 18th Annual Jazz at Drew Legacy Music Series, Cultural Marketplace and Health Pavilion. This was apparent, perhaps because Jazz at the Drew was the final outdoor music festival for the year, whose theme was "Building Cultural Bridges Through Music: Highlighting the Healing Art of Medicine and Music."
"Is there a doctor in the house?" This question was answered with a resounding yes! I'm also referring to Dr. Gaynell Colburn, who kicked off the annual Jazz at Drew, a festival presented by Honda. She opened her set with Get Here. Colburn is a vocalist and percussionist who has toured with Stevie Wonder, and has performed with Patti Austin, Dave Valentin, and Herbie Hancock. Saxophonist J Boykin joined the group for the remainder of her set. J is a new star on the smooth jazz circuit, on the fast track of making a name for himself. He performed material from his debut CO, including the tunes My Name is J, Just J, So Amazing (dedicated to the memory of Luther Vandross), and Lost Without You (authored by Robert Thicke). Colburn closed out her set with Check Out lime.
Malcolm Jamal Warner and Miles Long and the LA Multi-School Hip Hop Orchestra (led by Reggie Andrews) established a nice collaboration that produced some great music.
The Latin Jazz All-Stars helped to heat up the festivities with some hot Latin jazz and salsa extracted from the songbooks of Hilton Ruiz, Pete Ecovedo and Miles Davis. This was another tight band that consisted of trumpeter Ray Vega, conguero Chembo Corniel, pianist Arturo O'Farrill, drummer Phoenix Rivera, timbalero Pete Escovedo, bassist Yunior Ferry and trombonist Francisco Torres. These musicians are masters of Afro-Cuban rhythms/salsa, Brazilian music and Latín jazz.
Vocalist Chrisette Michele is another newcomer in the neo-soul genre, positioned on the fast track to become a star. Her crowd-pleasing set featured tunes from her debut disc I Am anda song from an upcoming CD to be titled Like a Lady. She entertained the crowd with Let's Ride, Like a Dream, Love Is You, I'll Always Be Your Joy, The Best of Me...