Long Beach Jazz Festival offers cool music at Rainbow Lagoon

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Richard Guzman of the Long Beach Press Telegram highlights five jazz musicians you’ll want to see this weekend.

“The 30th annual Long Beach Jazz Festival returns to the city this weekend with a three-day lineup featuring more than a dozen jazz acts. And as usual, these acts range from R&B to Latin, funk, pop, to smooth and straight-ahead jazz.

This diversity is something that the musicians say makes this festival a stand-out event.

“That’s how I make my records today,” said jazz saxophonist Boney James. “You got jazz and R&B and different flavors all mixed into this stew. So it’s very natural for me to feel comfortable at a festival of that nature.”

The musician has performed at the festival several times and returns this year as one of the headliners for the Aug. 11-13 show at Rainbow Lagoon Park.

He’s joined on the lineup by sax and flute player Najee, another musician who frequently performs at Jazz Fest.

And like James, one of the things that keeps Najee coming back is the variety of music.

“It’s probably one of the best in Southern California,” Najee said. “It kind of goes across the spectrum of music, all of it.”

With so many styles of jazz happening in three days, you’ll need a breakdown of some of the main performers, along with what they play, and a must-hear song from each artists that defines their style of jazz.


Saturday Aug. 12

• Boney James

Main instrument: Saxophone Musical style: His mix of vintage soul with modern pop, jazz and R&B music has earned the musician four Grammy nominations. Listen to: “Ain’t no Sunshine,” from his 1995 album “Seduction”

• Will Downing

Main instrument: His voice, which is described as a “honey smooth” baritone Musical style: Romantic R&B ballads to stir the emotions Listen to: “Wishing on a Star” from 1989’s “Come Together as One”

Sunday Aug. 13

• Poncho Sanchez

Main instrument: Conga drums Musical style: Latin jazz and salsa Listen to: “El Congero,” from 1999’s “Latin Soul”

• Najee

Main instrument: Saxophone and flute Musical style: Contemporary smooth jazz with R&B roots Listen to: “For the Love of You,” from his 1986 release “Najee’s Theme”

Information: 562-424-0013, www.longbeachjazzfestival.com





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