Macy Gray delivered recognizable hits, as well as new tracks from her latest album, The Way, at Smooth Summer Jazz.
The Smooth Summer Jazz mini-festival held at the prestigious Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles was the place to be on Aug. 23 as the top musicians in jazz serenaded spectators into the night.
The parking lots were full, and the surrounding streets of the venue were jam-packed. People in attendance carried their coolers and picnic baskets full of cheese, wine and bread up a steep hill following the enchanting melodies that echoed down to Highland Avenue.
It was a perfect summer evening – not too hot and not too cold – the breeze was in perfect harmony with the notes that played out of Dave Koz’s saxophone. The sun set to Macy Gray and her glimmering dress, and the crowd danced to the slapping style of Larry Graham’s bass.
It was a night full of legends, and on stage first was drummer Harvey Mason and the Chameleon band. Mason, who is a multi-Grammy Award-nominated drummer, composer and producer set the concert’s mood quickly. Playing songs from his most recent album, Chameleon, like “Black Frost,” “Places and Spaces” and touching on both the old and new version of his song “Chameleon.”
The host of the night was 94.7 the Wave’s very own Deborah Howell. In her charismatic tone she strolled up and down the floor interacting with the crowd and introducing artists before they took the stage.
As Howell introduced the talented, youngest and only woman of the night Macy Gray, she boasted to the crowd that watching this artist would surely be a highlight of their concerts list: “You can cross [Gray] off your bucket list.”
Gray went on stage as the sun was setting, her big purple fur coat came off and revealed her entire glittery dress that reflected the beams of the colorful stage lights. Gray didn’t do too much talking and instead got into her recognizable hits while also keeping her set based on her new album, titled The Way. She performed songs like “First Time,” “Hands” and “Sweet Baby” before pausing to talk about the track “Stoned,” which she explained to the crowd was written after encountering marriage problems with her husband.
The most prominent moment of the night was not when she took the stage but instead when she got off. She brought out Bobby Brown and then got the entire crowd singing to her “I Try” tune.
Next, Larry Graham and Graham Central Station rocked the stage in all-white outfits. The well-known bass-slapping-technique originator walked on stage with his white bass, opening up with a song from 1975: “The Jam.” Young and old instantly hopped out of their chairs and danced through the set as he went even further back to 1968 and played Sly & the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.” The band ended their time on stage with “One in a Million,” as older couples stood up and waved their phones in the darkness.
The closing act was smooth saxophonist Dave Koz along with the energetic trumpet player Rick Braun. The two brought out several guest artists on stage to join them. One of them was “modern soul man,” R&B singer Kenny Lattimore. Koz concluded the show by “bringing out the 5-year-old girl in men and women” when he played “So Close” from the Disney film Enchanted.
The Hollywood Bowl’s Smooth Summer Jazz event is a perfect compliment to the venue, which is open, beautiful and tucked away in the Hollywood Hills. The soothing music just poured out of the concave stage. This event is a must for your 2016 summer calendar.