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Playboy Jazz Festival Offers Classic and International Jazz - 2002-06-14

Wynton Marsalis, Etta James and the Cuban musician Maraca are among the headliners at the Playboy Jazz Festival this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The festival offers a mix of styles for many kinds of jazz fans.

Comedian Bill Cosby, who hosts the annual festival, favors the jazz of 40 to 50 years ago. "I like my jazz from 1949 through 1964, he said. "I like it when the musicians soloed for one chorus, and built some kind of crescendo within the solo."

For those who like their jazz traditional, there is some Dixieland, with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which will play with clarinetist Pete Fountain. Keyboardist Herbie Hancock will be part of a tribute to jazz greats Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

But the Playboy festival has all kinds of jazz, from blues to bop, from swing to Latin salsa. Festival producer George Wein says there are some hot new acts and others with an international flavor.

"We'll have Lavay Smith and her Red-hot Skillet Lickers," he said. "They're one of the top swinging jump blues bands around, and they've been at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and done a wonderful job. And direct from Cuba, Maraca. They're the award-winning flautists."

The Cuban musician Maraca plays with his group Otra Vision Saturday. So do trumpeters Arturo Sandoval and Wynton Marsalis.

Sunday's lineup includes the Count Basie Orchestra with vocalist Patti Austin in a salute to the late singer Ella Fitzgerald.

There is no single theme to this year's festival, says producer George Wein, just two days of good music in a classic setting, the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in Los Angeles.

"You know. Jazz festivals have gone in so many directions, and the aim of the Playboy Jazz Festival is that everybody should have a good time," he said.

The festival is sponsored by Playboy Enterprises, the media company that publishes Playboy magazine.