at Desert Breeze Park 4-24-04
11th Annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival
by Don Brown Sr.
The Jazz Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Las Vegas Blues
For the last 24 years, Michael Schivo has been bringing smooth jazz to Las Vegas. On May 30th he will be bring Jazz Under The Stars back to Spring Mountain State Park. Today, founder and producer Michael Schivo has brought back The 11th Annual Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival to Desert Breeze Park.
We made it just in time to catch Nick Colionne, Marcus Johnson & Bobby Lyle. Marcus brought out guitarist Colionne for a few tunes including the impressive "Sandy Point." Next Lyle joined Johnson and they ran through some hot numbers that included "Hip Swing," Sade's "The Sweetest Taboo" and R. Kelly's "Step In The Name Of Love." Nick returned and the band did Brook Benton's "Rainy Night In Georgia" that kept the crowd going.
The first time we heard about Mindi Abair, she was playing with the band on Emeril Live. It was Emeril's Valentines Day all-chocolate show. Now Abair was giving the fans her best with her set. "Salt & Lime" and "Save The Last Dance" lead into "Work Song," which featured Mindi's dad Lance Abair on saxophone. "It Happens That Way" lead into Eagle Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight," which contained Abair showing off her fine vocal skills along with her sax duties.
Brian Culbertson is touring behind his funky Come On Up CD. Culbertson's biggest influence is his dad Jim, a high school music teacher and Brian's trumpet player. The funky influence comes from Earth Wind & Fire and their leader Maurice White. This is proven by a cover of the band's hit "Serpentine Fire" on the CD.
Brian works the stage and the crowd more like a rock star then any jazz artist I've ever seen. The opening number, "Say What?", quickly got the fans up and dancing. "All About You" and "Back In The Day" lead into saxophonist Michael Lington's "Still Thinking Of You." Culbertson grabbed his trombone and joined the horn section of his dad and Lington on the rousing "Serpentine Fire." "Get It On" ended his rockin' funky set. An encore of the beautiful "Our Love" left everybody yelling for more.
Could the supergroup BWB top that? Trumpeter Rick Braun believed they could. During the set they would play together and also take turns in the spotlight. The men were introduced one by one and started jamming. Kirk Whalum dedicated "Ruby Baby" to his wife then let his sax do the talking. Braun was next with "Green Tomatoes" from his CD Esperanto and didn't disappoint. Norman Brown and his guitar took over on the Grammy winning "Just Chillin'."
BWB jammed on the next tune and got the crowd singing the lyrics "Shouldn't I realize." Bassist Michael Manson even got a turn with his song "Outta Drive." The fans enjoyed another great performance as the band was truly groovin' the rest of their set. Michael Schivo presented us with another great festival. I can't wait for number twelve.
If you can't wait until next year, catch Jazz Under The Stars on May 30th at Spring Mountain State Park featuring The Sax Pack with Kim Waters, Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa and Praful. For more information go to the website yourjazz.com We would like to thank Arvella, Tom, BWB and Brian Culbertson for all their help.
Photography by Carol Michaud & Don Brown Sr. copyright © 2004 Brown Ink
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