Singer Al Jarreau and bassist Stanley Clarke will celebrate the legacy of their friend and musical partner George Duke on the opening day of the 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which is presenting the festival for the first time, announced the lineup for the June 14-15 event on Monday. George Benson and fellow smooth jazz guitarist Earl Klugh will headline the closing concert.
Saturday’s concert will pay tribute to Duke, the keyboardist, singer, composer and producer who headlined last year’s Playboy opener and was a frequent participant in the Los Angeles area’s biggest jazz event. Duke, 67, died of leukemia last August shortly after releasing his chart-topping contemporary jazz CD “Dreamweaver,” which included a straight-ahead acoustic jazz track featuring Clarke.
Jarreau first performed with Duke in the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club in the late ’60s and the keyboardist was featured on the singer’s 1981 album “Breakin’ Away.” Clarke and Duke recorded three groove-oriented albums together, including 1981’s “Clarke/Duke Project” with the R&B hit single “Sweet Baby.”
Comedian George Lopez said he’s “thrilled” to be hosting the Playboy festival again after taking over from long-time emcee Bill Cosby last year.
“This year’s lineup of talent is unparalleled, and it’s going to be a great weekend of music,” Lopez said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Saturday’s lineup includes singer Dianne Reeves, who featured her cousin Duke on several of her albums; pianist Kenny Barron’s trio with guest saxophonist Ravi Coltrane; trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s big band and British singer-pianist Jamie Cullum.
On Sunday, the performers include bassist Dave Holland’s Prism with guitarist Kevin Eubanks, the former “Tonight Show” bandleader; pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland; “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino; and the James Cotton Blues Band with guest saxophonist Big Jay McNeely.
As in previous years, the festival will present several emerging artists, including singers Jose James and Allen Stone, and pianist Jon Batiste with his band Stay Human.
LA Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda said the agreement to integrate the Playboy festival into its Hollywood Bowl programming underscores “the commitment of the LA Phil to the jazz genre.” The LA Phil is taking over the presenting duties from Playboy.