|July 19, 2014|
|Jazz Funk Soul: Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber and Chuck Loeb.
|Review by: Shyra Duncan
The 31st Annual Winter Park Jazz Festival definitely started out with a bang. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with a high of 78 degrees and no rain. The energy was high as everyone awaited the great line up for the day. People began to arrive as early as 9 am to ensure that they got their perfect seats and enough space for their coolers, chairs, and blankets. Beyond the continuous sound checks, you can hear the friendly banter of everyone saying hello to the people they know or just asking the person next to them who they are excited to see. The enthusiasm thru this whole event was out of this world!
Mary Louise Lee and band was the first artist to bless the stage. A Denver native, she got the ball rolling with her high exuberance. Her voice was beautiful and sultry as ever. She seduced the crowd with a combination of R&B and jazz songs. She was a great start to the day.
Next up were two great saxophonists, Jessy J and Elan Trotman. They took turns playing on the stage a couple songs at a time. Jessy J came on stage with her beautiful saxophone and dressed to kill. The way she moved around the stage in her high heels and alto saxophone was very impressive. She was so smooth and sexy with her jazz melodies and then changing to a more up-tempo set with some of her Latin influenced songs. Not only could this beautiful woman play a saxophone but she also can sing. I have to say that was a pleasant surprise. Elan Trotman was amazing! With this being his first time at Winter Park, he had no problem wowing the crowd. He kept his performance very diverse while switching between alto and soprano saxophones. His transitions from up-tempo to calm and sensual made his performance very exhilarating.
Jazz Funk Soul
The Jazz Funk Soul trio was the next ones to hit the stage. Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber, and Chuck Loeb had the crowd on their feet. With the release of their album, a lot of their fans were anticipating this performance. These great and legendary artists had to play some of their greatest hits in their solo careers but found the time to play one of their new songs off their album. The audience really enjoyed the zest on stage and the passion these men have for Jazz in general.
When it came time for Larry Graham and Graham Central Station people stopped whatever they were doing and listened. The Funk master was in the house!!! The first initial chords that he played on his bass turned Hideaway Park into a house party. His funky music climbed into your soul and made you want to move. His lead vocalist Biscuit added a little Tina Marie flair to the funk that was coming out of the speakers. But, the highlight of his set was when he performed his number one hit “One in a Million.” He took the time to let the audience sing the chorus and it must have been such a beautiful sound for him because it brought tears to his eyes. He truly appreciates his fans.
George Benson was the headliner for Saturday and was highly anticipated. I couldn’t help but over hear people express their excitement for his performance. He began with his classic “Breezin’” followed by “This Masquerade.” George Benson has so many classics that every song he did was a true favorite. Spending decades making great music and I could see he has truly enjoys being live on stage. At 71, this man continues to emulate a man in his prime and his fans truly appreciate it. Almost everyone stayed until his last song for having an opportunity to see George Benson live is a rare treat.
All in all, the Winter Park Jazz Festival got off to a great start. The liveliness remained high and will stay that way thru Sunday. This Annual festival is a must see for all jazz lovers all over the country and world. There is nothing better than good food, great weather, and unforgettable performances. Don’t miss out!
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