Additional reporting by Brian Addison | In 1978, jazz guru Al Williams created Long Beach’s first venue dedicated solely to jazz when he opened the Jazz Safari by the Queen Mary. Over several years, the hallowed space was frequented by musicians and music fans alike while Williams became a jazz entrepreneur of sorts when he opened his second jazz space, Birdland West, in Downtown nearly a decade later.
With a reputation that garnered him a vast network of jazz professionals, Wiliams organized the first Long Beach Jazz Festival. While the first one may have been tiny, 27 years later it’s obvious he was onto something: August 9 and 10 marks the 27th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival, an event that will grace the grassy lawns of the Rainbow Lagoon and bring classic R&B and hot’n’heavy summertime jazz to the city by the beach. Not only will the jazz fest rock your taste for good music, but a great selection of food (in the name of health) and art will keep you going all day and all night long.
This year’s theme, “A Healthy Taste of Jazz,” aims to nourish all attendees’ minds, bodies and souls. A health and wellness pavilion will feature inspirational expert speakers and leaders, treatment centers, vendors and health food sampling stations. This year’s jazz fest organizers want everyone to leave de-stressed and with an increased awareness of healthcare and healthy living opportunities available to the Long Beach community.
Both days include the breathy, sensual vocals of renowned jazz and R&B vocalists and the familiar toe-tapping, head-bobbing sounds of the saxaphone. On Saturday, the line-up includes Tyrese, Ramsey Lewis, Rachelle Ferrell, Najee, Michael Lington and Jesse Boykins III. Sunday’s line-up includes Lalah Hathaway, Will Downing, Al Jarreau, Daley, Hiroshima, Al Williams Jazz Society and Rick Parma.
The festival will be located at Rainbow Lagoon Park behind the Long Beach Convention Center on Shoreline Drive. Gates open at 11:00AM and the show begins at noon and goes until 10:30PM. For more information, artist bios and to purchase tickets visit www.longbeachjazzfestival.com.