Dianne Reeves, the reigning queen of vocal jazz, will do at the Playboy Jazz Festival what she has done at her performances since the 1980s: amaze audiences with her vocal range, friendly interplay with fans and unusual improvisational scats.
Heavily influenced by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Reeves doesn't mimic those she admires. She just sings as though she's seeking their artistic approval from the heavens.
The consistency of her talent and performances puts Reeves in the spotlight at the 36th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend.
Music comes naturally to the Detroit native, who was raised in Denver, lived in Los Angeles from 1976 to 1992, and then returned to Colorado. Her father was a singer who, although he died when she was 2, gave her a sturdy musical background that was strengthened thanks to her trumpet-playing mother and her cousin George Duke, a legendary pianist, singer, bandleader, composer, arranger and producer.
Duke, who died in August, played one of his last shows at the 2013 Playboy festival. His musical genius will be celebrated this year with a memorial tribute featuring vocalist Al Jarreau, bassist Stanley Clarke, drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. and pianist Byron Miller.
The tribute is directed by John Beasley, a Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, arranger and sideman to trumpeters Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard.
Besides Reeves and the Duke tribute, both scheduled for Saturday, the festival features guitarist-singer George Benson with Earl Klugh, singers Jamie Cullum and Fantasia, the Kenny Barron Trio with Ravi Coltrane, former “Tonight Show” drummer Kevin Eubanks, Hammond B-3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith and more.
“The best word to describe Dr. Lonnie Smith's musical forays is awesome,” said Pete Fallico, a cultural historian and jazz aficionado who is an expert on the Hammond B-3 organ. “The passion of Lonnie's playing leaves you breathless. Nobody's leaving the room until he plays the very last note.”
The festival, presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, welcomes comedian George Lopez as master of ceremonies for a second year.
Playboy Jazz Festival
When: 3-10:30 p.m. June 14-15.
Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N Highland Ave., Los Angeles.
Information: 323-850-2000 or 800-745-3000, www.hollywoodbowl.com
Read more about Playboy Jazz Festival performer Dr. Lonnie Smith online at bit.ly/1jkRC5i