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Live Reviews

Central Avenue Jazz Festival

By Published: March 12, 2004
The surprise of the festival was previously unknown pianist, Olivia Reuveltas, working in a trio setting. She is well known in her native Mexico, and once hosted a jazz radio show. Don't be fooled by her small stature — her intensity on the ivories is a powerhouse! At times it seemed as if the keys would be caught in a whirlpool, all the while holding the reins tightly in control. Although this was her first tour to Southern California, already her reputation is receiving notice from high profiled jazz artists.

A giant of the local scene and recognized internationally was Gerald Wilson's Big Band, catering to the large group of fans in the house, performing fan favorites such as "Yum Yum." Even more impressive with their rendition of "Sketches of Spain." Though disciplined, the musicians splashed the composition with color and faithfully the trumpet soloist rendered the staccato solo. Refusing to remain stagnant, Wilson presented two pieces from his latest CD, "Romance" and "Lion's Roars," which were part of a commissioned work commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Penland Polygon Quintet led by Ralph Penland played easy listening, modern 90's jazz. Despite selecting Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter pieces, their presentation lacked dynamics.

Besides the main stage, OASIS, a community organization, sponsored senior citizen and student performances and activities. This included musical presentations of jazz figures, panel discussions, gallery exhibitations, old photos of the Dunbar Hotel, and performances by NWWISHN and Cal State University Dominguez Hills' choir. To keep children busy, there were craft and face painting activities.

Besides the past legacy, the Central Avenue Jazz Festivl servies as a small window of Los Angeles' continuing musical history.

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