Hollywood Jazz Festival ushers in a new era  

(HOLLYWOOD (News4usonline) – There are many variations of jazz. The annual Hollywood Jazz Festival is a reflection of that as well as the times. What the Hollywood Jazz Festival does well is blend the old with the new. If you are a jazz enthusiast, the Hollywood Jazz Festival (formerly the Playboy Jazz Festival) makes sure you get a taste of everything. 

Big band, soul, smooth, bebop, jazz funk, orchestral, and cool are all the melting pot of flavors that come with attending the Hollywood Jazz Festival. Oh, that’s not to mention a bit of hip-hop as well. Some of the artists to grace the stage for the 2023 Hollywood Jazz Festival gave audiences a good mixture of various forms of music they came to hear. 

Big Freedia on stage on the second day of the Hollywood Jazz Festival on June 18, 2023. Photo credit: Mathew Imaging/LA Phil

Only the Hollywood Jazz Festival can pull off putting the hip-hip dazzle of Bell Biv DeVoe, the resolute Latin jazz sound of Poncho Sanchez to the thought-provoking music of Kamasi Washington on the same billing. That was just on the first day.  

The second day of the two-day jazz gumbo called the Hollywood Jazz Festival sounded and reminded me of a throwback era. Outside the in-your-face, bouncing rhythmic lyrical sounds of Big Freedia, it was rather a chill day. The laid-back sounds of Digable Planets best reflected that. 

Known for their monster hit “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat), a song that exploded to nationwide and global popularity in the mid-1990s, Digable Planets made the afternoon one that reminded you of being in the backyard of your house, eating good food while listening to enjoying the relaxed sound of melodic jazz. 

The biggest surprise for this writer was getting an earful of the New Orleans bounce music Big Freedia brought to the table. You know, while the other acts fit the bill of jazz in a perfect sense, Big Freedia, unapologetically shook up what appeared to be a pretty much laid-back crowd.

Once Big Freedia took to the stage following a sweeping performance by The Soul Rebels, all bets were off. 

The Soul Rebels on stage during the Hollywood Jazz Festival on June 18, 2023. Photo credit: Mathew Imaging/LA Phil

The stirring buzz The Soul Rebels created around their cool jazz and jazz funk sound was completely opposite to what Big Freedia was offering. Big Freedia changed the dynamic of the show and had the audience bouncing to every single lyric.

Now, Big Freedia’s music might as well have been like studying a foreign language to me. But it seemed like everyone else around was clued in as they clamored and hollered at the top of their lungs for Big Freedia to turn it up. While I didn’t exactly know what was going on, I do know that Big Freedia brought a higher level of energy to the show. 

Ledisi performs at the 2023 Hollywood Jazz Festival on June 18, 2023. Photo credit: Mathew Imaging/LA Phil

It was energetic. The vibes were great. I would have to say that Big Freedia’s performance was probably the most refreshing and enjoyable the whole day.  

That’s not to say that the other artists performing weren’t great; they were. It’s that Big Freedia added that dash of the unpredictable that made the show amazing. And you know that Ledisi is always great. Dressed in an all-white dress, all Ledisi had to do was stand on stage, open her mouth and let the words come out. She is such a talented artist and one of the most gifted vocalists around today. 

Top Image: Digable Planets perform at the Hollywood Jazz Festival on June 18, 2023. Photo credit: Mathew Imaging/LA Phil

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