View Full Version : Bill Cosby all smiles about Playboy Jazz Festival

03-07-2010, 12:01 PM
Bill Cosby all smiles about Playboy Jazz Festival

Imani Tate, Staff Writer


Mirth and music mingled at the press conference announcing the lineup of master, mainstream and new artists who will perform at the 32nd annual Playboy Jazz Festival in June at the Hollywood Bowl.

Festival producer Darlene Chan, admitting her fort was not casual conversation, asked comedian Bill Cosby to join her at the podium.

She was happy to hardly get a word in as the festival's perennial master of ceremonies teased talented teens, playfully reminisced with musical friends and shouted at screeching exotic birds interrupting the recent press conference at the Playboy Mansion.

Cosby immediately drew attention to the June 12 and 13 festival dates. When held on Father's Day weekend, he enjoys music instead of pretending joy about "pitiful" gifts of mugs and ties, he said.

Cosby has served as master of ceremonies for all but four of the 32 Playboy festivals.

His familiarity with artists, ability to splice jokes and whimsical comments in-between musical performances and skill at managing sometimes difficult stage and audience antics make him the emcee of choice for Playboy Enterprises and audiences.

"Where is he?" a timid Chan queried, scanning the crowd for Cosby.

"I've been pathetically lobbying him for months to join me. He came just because of my whining. I'm counting on him to interrupt me."

And Cosby did.


And each interruption sparked uproarious laughter.

Calling master drummer/percussionist Ndugu Chancler to the stage, Cosby repeated a reviewer's remarks - "Ndugu is the drama and Cosby is the drummer" - about Chancler, a three-time Grammy nominee who has played and recorded with jazz masters for three decades.

He is always the drummer in the group called Cos of Good Music, featuring Cosby's favorite artists.

The soundtrack drummer anchors the group along with bassist Dwayne Burno.

Grammy-winning alto saxophonist Mark Gross, innovative vibraphonist Jay Hoggard and Canadian Juno Award-winning pianist D.D. Jackson and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen join Chancler and Burno this year.

Cosby next called up teen pianist Heizer Montes, saxophonist Javon Harvey, trumpeter Bryan Johnson, trombonist Oscar Lopez, bass guitarist Daniel Granados

and drummer Kyle Poole of L.A. All-District High School Jazz Band.

"This is the future, but they might not be the future," Cosby teased the teens opening the June 13 set.

He then asked them to identify the key factor in musical success or failure.

"It starts with a P," he hinted.

"Practice!" the boys shouted, gaining grins from Cosby.

Chan said Playboy's most memorable musical moment was in 1982 when Weather Report co-leaders Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul, bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius and drummer Peter Erskine finished with a flurry.

Chan confessed her heart leaped for joy when Manhattan Transfer joined the top jazz fusion group for its rousing "Birdland" finale.

"Joe Zawinul had speakers like five battleships," Cosby recalled. "Manhattan Transfer just strolled out and people went crazy clapping and standing up."

Chan and Cosby's assertion that the Weather Report-Manhattan Transfer surprise was a magical musical moment brought blushes

to the cheeks of Tim Hauser, founder of the harmonically gifted vocal quartet, and Alan Paul whose baritone holds down the bottom of 4-part harmonies with tenor Hauser, soprano Janis Siegel and alto Cheryl Bentyne.

Jazz vocal giant Kurt Elling, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and piano pioneer Chick Corea's Freedom Band featuring master musicians Roy Haynes on drums, Christian McBride on bass and Kenny

Garrett on alto sax headline the June 12 set.

That day also features saxophonist Javon Jackson with guest

pianist Les McCann, Playboy Jazz Cruise artistic director Marcus Miller with guest trumpeter Christian Scott, Naturally 7 a cappella ensemble, ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro, Trombone Shorty's Orleans Avenue, Los Van Van, El Dorado High School Jazz Band and Sax For Stax with Gerald Albright, Jeff Lorber and Kirk Whalum.

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton and George Benson headline on June 13 with Manhattan Transfer.

That day's lineup also includes trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Malian singer Salif Keita, pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, Tiempo Libre, bassist Esperanza Spalding and Jazz Mafia.