The Bowl’s Annual Contemporary Jazz Festival Features James Ingram, Boney James, David Sanborn, Ledisi, and Eric Darius
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17, 2008, AT 6 PM
Sponsored by JVC
The LA Phil presents the 2008 JVC Jazz Festival, produced by the Festival Network, LLC, on Sunday, August 17, at 6 p.m. at the Hollywood Bowl. This popular annual festival displays the summer’s best lineup of smooth jazz veterans including James Ingram, Boney James, David Sanborn, Ledisi and Eric Darius.
James Ingram, the ultimate voice of R&B, brings his signature musical style to the evening and saxophonist/songwriter/producer Boney James plays selections from his extensive career including his latest project Shine. Alto sax master David Sanborn blows through pieces from his recent release Here and Gone released August 12 and soul singer Ledisi displays her versatile vocals. Sax prodigy Eric Darius opens the show.
Not many people can claim to be back-to-back Academy Award nominees, but singer JAMES INGRAM is among that select company. As one of the truly superb voices in contemporary music, he earned the Best Song Oscar nomination for “Look What Love has Done,” the enchanting love theme from the movie Junior, a song he co-wrote with Carole Bayer Sager and James Newton Howard. A native of Akron, Ohio, Ingram has earned three Grammy awards and 17 nominations over the years. He first drew widespread attention in the early 1980s for his memorable performances of “One Hundred Ways” and “Just Once,” two smash hit singles that helped make Quincy Jones’ The Dude the most Grammy-nominated album in history to date. Ingram also immortalized “Somewhere Out There,” a duet he sang with Linda Ronstadt in Steven Spielberg’s animated feature An American Tail, and his duet with Patti Austin, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing,” was an Oscar-nominated song from the movie Best Friends. As a songwriter, Ingram co-wrote with Michael McDonald, and won a Grammy award for “Yah-Mo Be There”. In 1993 he teamed up with Carole Bayer Sager and Clif Magness to co-write “The Day I Fall in Love,” from the movie Beethoven’s Second. Sung as a duet between himself and Dolly Parton, it went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in 1994. Thom Bell (producer) provided James with his first solo number one pop hit: “I Don’t Have The Heart,” paving the way for more acclaim and recognition for the powerhouse vocalist. In 1990, James was also featured on “The Secret Garden,” the No. 1 R &B hit from Quincy Jones’ multi-platinum album, Back on the Block. In addition to all his corporate performances and activity as a recording artist, James travels worldwide and has been constantly busy with trips to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. He is one of the most popular U.S. artists, performing and playing before sold-out audiences year in and year out. At home, he’s currently working with choreographer/producer Debbie Allen on a musical entitled The Legend in development. The essential quality that is apparent in James’ music is the down-on-the-ground realness and authenticity that James Ingram brings to every song he writes, sings, or produces. That honest approach to music stems the balance James maintains between his career and his home life: “I never confuse who I am with what I do.” In the spring of 2008, James released his first Inspirational CD, titled Stand (In The Light). Fortunately for one and all, James Ingram’s “extended” family includes his many admirers throughout the world. We hope you agree this remarkable artist’s pre-eminence as one of the most outstanding vocalists of our time.
You’d never know it from the effortlessly soulful melodies and silky grooves of his records, but BONEY JAMES becomes a mad scientist in the studio while working to create sounds that feel as soothing as a tropical breeze. “I was a nut making this record,” the acclaimed saxophonist/songwriter/producer admits with a laugh while discussing Shine, his 10th solo album and first for Concord Records. Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Rochelle, NY, James Oppenheim began playing clarinet at the age of eight. By the age of ten, he was urged to take up the saxophone by his music teacher, who faced a glut of clarinetists; though he resisted at first, young James was persuaded when he saw a performance by a local junior high school’s stage band. He’d been exposed to jazz through his father’s record collection, which included watershed LPs by the likes of Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans – not to mention the pop-jazz of Herb Alpert, which James covered with his school combo – but it was in high school that he first encountered the sounds that would influence him most. His late teens – during which time his family relocated to Los Angeles – saw him join a promising band. “We got a little record deal but it fell through and we were crushed,” he remembers with amusement. “I said, ‘I could never be in the record business – it’s too frustrating!’ ” He headed off to UC Berkeley, intending to study law, and for a while scarcely touched his sax. But a trip to L.A. to visit his folks put him in touch with a local fusion band, Line One. “I sat in with them at a gig, and a light bulb went on,” he declares. “It was the most fun I’d ever had.” Transferring to UCLA so he could continue playing with the band, Boney threw himself into music once again, delivering pizzas to eke out a living. Despite some prestigious opening spots on the road, a “Star Search” appearance, and the tutelage of Little Feat’s Kenny Gradney, however, Line One never took off – and eventually dissolved. Shortly thereafter, he auditioned for a spot backing up Morris Day, the charismatic former frontman of funk band The Time. Hired as a keyboardist, he was also given a sax spotlight in the set. He subsequently backed up such artists as The Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford, Sheena Easton, Ray Parker, Jr., and Bobby Caldwell. It was on the road with Crawford that he earned his now-famous moniker; his per diem as a touring musician barely kept him fed, and a bandmate notoriously commented of his dwindling physique, “At this rate we’ll have to start calling you Boney James!” Ultimately, though, it was the diminishing musical challenges of sideman work that pushed him in a new direction. An opportunity arose to make a solo disc for the indie label Spindletop. “I had no expectations, but it turned out to be a cool record,” Boney remarks of Trust (1992), which yielded several tracks that continue to garner radio play and led to a deal with Warner Bros. Over the course of more than a decade, he delivered a string of hugely successful albums on Warner that blended jazz and R&B – virtually spawning the subgenre known as Urban Jazz. 2004’s Pure marked his debut as his own producer. “I did most of it in my home studio and there was a learning curve,” he acknowledges of the recording space in his L.A. home, which he shares with his wife, actress and filmmaker Lily Mariye (“E.R.”). “But while recording Shine I really saw the benefit of working at my place and on my own schedule. If I have an idea, I can realize it.”
Veteran alto-sax master DAVID SANBORN has played a crucial role in establishing the sound of contemporary jazz and instrumental pop. In his remarkable three-and-a-half-decade recording and performing career, he’s consistently embodied the dual ideals of virtuosity and versatility, revealing a one-of-a-kind talent on his own much-loved releases while building a singularly impressive resume that includes work with everyone from Gil Evans to Bruce Springsteen. The sense of open-minded adventurousness that’s helped to make David Sanborn a musical icon is prominent on Closer (2005), which followed his acclaimed 2003 Verve debut Timeagain. The album once again teams Sanborn with Timeagain’s producer, Stewart Levine, along with an all-star assortment of musicians including Larry Goldings (electric piano, organ), Gil Goldstein (electric piano, accordion), Mike Mainieri (vibraphone), Russell Malone (guitar), Christian McBride (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Luis Quintero (percussion), and Bob Sheppard (saxophones), as well as Sanborn’s Verve labelmate Lizz Wright, who contributes a compelling guest vocal on a memorable reading of James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” Born in Tampa, Florida on July 30, 1945 but raised in St. Louis, David Sanborn was exposed to a wide variety of music in his youth. Early on, he was attracted to the work of soul-jazz saxophonists like Gene Ammons, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Forrest, King Curtis, and Willis “Gator” Jackson, improvisers who balanced their hard-swinging chops with warmth and expressiveness. Adopting the alto saxophone as his main instrument, Sanborn immersed himself in jazz while retaining a parallel affinity for popular culture. His talent and adaptability resulted in early gigs backing artists such as soul deity James Brown and blues great Albert King. In the 1970s, Sanborn earned widespread renown as both an improvising jazz instrumentalist and a busy R&B/pop/rock session player. He was featured on albums by such jazz heavyweights as Gil Evans, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, Joe Beck, and Mark Murphy, as well as projects by David Bowie, the Eagles, Carly Simon, Donny Hathaway, and Bruce Springsteen. Sanborn began recording as a leader in 1975, when he released his debut album, Taking Off, on Warner Bros. He went on to record a dozen albums for Warner, including such well-received efforts as Heart to Heart, Hideaway, Voyeur, and Straight to the Heart, before singing with Elektra in 1990. At Elektra, Sanborn recorded such critically admired CDs as 1991’s Another Hand, 1992’s Upfront, 1993’s Hearsay, 1995’s Pearls (a collaboration with arranger Johnny Mandel), 1996’s Songs from the Night Before, and 1999’s Inside.
From her name to her music to her mission to the circuitous path that brought her to legendary Verve Records for her third album, Lost and Found (2007), LEDISI – wedged between a hip-hop act and a tweety bird – is a galvanizing, all-natural wonder. Ledisi (pronounced led-uh-see and adopted from the word that means “to bring forth” in the Yoruba language of Nigeria) is the epitome of the performer that – after she earns a standing ovation – people stare at wide-eyed and mumbling, “Where has she been all this time?” The lady will tell you – in a voice of equal parts sweet, slightly weary, yet triumphant – “Here...all along.” Already respected and adored from the cutting edge of today’s black music underground, Ledisi has been one of its most inspiring independent spirits. Frustrated at the lack of interest she was getting from major record companies, Ledisi and her friend Sundra Manning launched LeSun Records in 1999 with Ledisi’s debut project, Soulsinger. A breakthrough for Ledisi in urban adult contemporary radio occurred upon the release of the 2004 all-star collection Forever, For Always, For Luther – a salute to soul music legend Luther Vandross. It was at this point that Verve – which had passed on signing her in the past – began to reconsider this versatile talent. “Being on Verve makes me feel like a class act,” she swoons. “Along with my own label, LeSun, and my new publishing company, LedHed Music, Verve is the ideal home for me.”Twice nominated for a Grammy, including Best New Artist, Ledisi also appeared and sang in George Clooney’s film Leatherheads. From singing on Broadway and teaching voice in Berkeley to performing around the globe, having the guts to compose and manufacture her own soul-baring music, and the good fortune of being born in New Orleans (soul music central) to two fine singers (and a drummer for a step-daddy to boot), Ledisi extends from roots any artist would proudly claim.
From playing at local clubs and hotspots in his native Tampa to wowing the crowds at the JazzTrax Catalina Island Jazz Festival, life for this 24-year college student has changed dramatically in just a few years. Yet ERIC DARIUS’ approach to his music remains as sincere as the day he first discovered jazz as a child. “I’d been playing the saxophone for about one year, before I joined America’s Youngest Jazz Band, which was led by renowned trumpeter Sonny LaRosa. The unique band brought in musicians from ages 5-12, and I was fortunate enough to be part of it for two years.” Listening to music around the house, Darius had always had a passion for jazz, and being in this elite group changed his life. Born into a musical family (his father plays bass, his mother and sister sing, and his older brother plays the drums and trumpet), Darius studied at Blake High School of the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida, where he was a member of the Blake Jazz Ensemble and many other bands the school offered. Throughout the past several years, Darius has played at several renowned venues, such as the Capital Jazz Festival, the Apollo Theater in New York City, the Clearwater Jazz Festival, and – as a member of the University of South Florida Jazztet – the Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy) and the Vienne Jazz Festival (France). In addition, he has shared the stage with notable artists such as Prince, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Mindi Abair, Boney James, George Benson, Dionne Warwick, Chris Botti, and many others. In 2001, Darius released Cruisin’ independently at the age of 17. Night on the Town (2004), Darius’ major label debut on Higher Octave, showcased his maturing talent as both a songwriter and musician. His most recent releases are Just Getting Started (2007) and Goin’ All Out (2008). On Just Getting Started, Darius remarks, “Even though each song has its own vibe on this CD, the one characteristic that every song on this CD has in common is – a groove. Every song will make you move!”
One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly-constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens enhancing stage views in the venue. To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl," the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now in its 40th season. Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in 1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one million admissions have been recorded. In February 2008, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the fourth year in a row at the 19th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. The Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers and Disneyland.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17, 2008, at 6 PM
HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood
Sponsored by JVC
Tickets ($10 - $96) are on sale now at HollywoodBowl.com, at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office (Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.), or by calling Ticketmaster at 213.480.3232, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for a 20% discount, subject to availability; call 323.850.2050 for further details. For general information or to request a brochure, call 323.850.2000.
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Leah Price, 213.972.3406, firstname.lastname@example.org; Photos: 213.972.3034