Smooth Summer Jazz
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Starring: George Benson, Average White Band, To Grover with Love featuring Jason Miles, Jeff Lorber Fusion
Songs performed: Just the Two of Us (To Grover with Love); Cut the Cake, Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band); Give Me the Night, The Ghetto, Lady Love Me, Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You, This Masquerade, Turn Your Love Around, On Broadway (George Benson)
Comments: Hollywood Bowl presented their annual Smooth Summer Jazz event this past August. We have gone to see this night of music before starring headliners: Dave Koz as well as Men of Soul (Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Freddie Jackson). The night is usually comprised of 4 acts over the course of 4-4.5 hours. It is always a nice event to share with our friends.
First up for the night was Jeff Lorber Fusion — a jazz group led by keyboardist and producer, Jeff Lorber. Their music was nice, if forgettable, smooth jazz.
Next up was To Grover with Love. This group was lead by Jason Miles, and is named after the legendary artist Grover Washington Jr. who died in 1999. They performed some instrumentals, and then brought out Maya Azucena to sing for a few numbers. She definitely brightened the night. She was a strong vocalist, and even sang the Bill Withers part on “Just the Two of Us.”
The stage rotated once more and the next act was… George Benson? Huh? I thought he was the headliner? Anyways, I last saw George in 2008 at the same venue. His set list hadn’t changed much since I last saw him. The exception being — “The Ghetto” — a song from Donny Hathaway that Benson had recorded before. He is a consummate performer and definitely had the crowd singing and dancing along to his hits. I think his voice was not as strong as when I saw him before, but he still sounded good. He is also an excellent guitar player and showed that off to good effect. His female backup singer also did a very good job backing him up.
The final act of the night turned out to be Average White Band. This band from Scotland had a few hits in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their sound is very horn-heavy soul funk. Their best known songs to me were “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake.” But the crowd seemed to know their other songs too, and were singing along to them. The lead singer was good, but lacked the star power of George Benson.
Overall, I had a great time hearing some good music with a bunch of our friends. Thanks to all involved for a fun evening.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.