The Los Cabos Jazz Experience 2018

Wendy Ross By

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Maysa brought her deep velvety vocals that are easily at home with jazz, and R&B and she can definitely bring the funk. Grammy nominated, she has been on the solo recording scene for over twenty-five years. She went from singing with Stevie Wonder upon graduation to becoming the lead singer for Incognito in the 90's. She sang "Inside My Dream" from her 2013 album, Blue Velvet. Maysa has the ability to encompass many genres at once. She can sound soulful, jazzy, and funky all at once. No performance goes without that wildly popular hit "Deep Water" off of Incognito's 1993 Positivity album. She knows her audience, and is not afraid to give them what they want even if it means digging back into her treasure chest of hits and R&B favorites. She talked about her title song from 2017 album release Love Is a Battlefield reprising Pat Benatar's, rock hit that was a favorite from her youth. She has put a slower spin on it, and changed some of the lyrics and admits to addressing some of today's political situations about inclusiveness. She finished with her "funk party" medley of beat heavy old school jams.

Norman Brown, and Bobby Caldwell. Norman Brown, the headliner for Saturday is a Grammy award winning jazz & R&B guitarist who has secured a place at the top of the Billboard charts. The guitarist has sold close to two million albums and has shared the stage with popular smooth jazz standouts like, his fellow headliner Boney James. In 2002 he formed the super group, BWB, with trumpeter Rick Braun, and fellow festival performer Kirk Whalum. Brown's music is multilayered, his dexterity and guitar mastery produces jamming beats, while maintaining the fluidity, of a stream flowing over rocks. There is always a nostalgic aspect to his music, especially his classic "Just Between Us" the title song from his 1992 album. His expressions as he grooves the music out of his instrument are priceless, sometimes revealing an element of surprise at his own virtuosity. His set included "For the Love of You" and Janet Jackson's "That's the Way love Goes" from the 1994 album After the Storm .

Singer/Songwriter Bobby Caldwell live is a rare and special occurrence and yet his vocals in "I Can't Go for That" seemed a little overly stylized . Caldwell did redeem himself on his classic hit "What You Won't Do for Love" a favorite from the 1978 eponymous album that has been sampled by more than one-hundred artists including Boys II Men. Drawing from his collection of intimate jazzy R&B ballads. "All or Nothing at All" "Ain't No Woman Like the One I Got." His repertoire spans many decades. He has recently turned to classics from the Great American Song book and earned immense popularity in Japan and all of Asia as a sellout gold and platinum artist. His songwriting has earned hits for himself as well as other artist such as Chicago, Boz Scaggs, Peter Cetera, and Amy Grant, Neil Diamond and Al Jarreau and the Notorious B.I.G. The curse of such a prolific and talented singer/songwriter is that there are sometimes going to be other artists with more dynamic vocal chops, that cover your songs and make them their own.

Opening on Sunday, Lin Roundtree aka The Soul-Trumpeter, is an accomplished recording artist, producer and live performer. His music is so smooth and addictively upbeat, especially his Billboard #1 Hit "Pass the Groove" and then later "Something More" both from his 2018 album Stronger Still. Jessica Jolia, the vocalist featured on his song "Something More" joined him on stage. The audience was joyfully engaged, with the music. With six solo projects, and twelve chart topping Billboard singles he has had numerous collaborations with some of the industry's top R&B and jazz artists to his credit. He is poised to make a big impact. He cites Miles Davis. Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, and Tom Brown as influences in his playing and his writing style.

Keyboardist and composer, Keiko Matsui was up next. Celebrating over thirty years and twenty-seven albums, she is a musical force. She's been a reoccurring presence on the Billboard charts and her 2016 album Journey to the Heart debuted at #1 on the Contemporary Jazz Chart. Beloved by fans all over the world, her music straddles the borders between jazz and new age with magical precision. It flows out like a benediction, allowing space to breathe yet at the same time is upbeat and lyrically optimistic. She draws gifted musicians as collaborators and is generous in allowing them a showcase. She has often shared the stage with, and been featured on songs with fellow festival performer Kirk Whalum. Her music is a mixture of east and west and she connected to nature and music as a spiritual gift. Her 2013 album Soul Quest reached number #6 on the Jazz Chart. In a short comment after her set, she said she was very excited to come to Los Cabos, as she had vacationed there and thought it would be a beautiful place for a festival.

Two-time Grammy nominee, Mindy Abair, one of the most recognized saxophonists/vocalists, has been thrilling audiences with her bold, jamming live performance since her debut in 2000. A ball of infectious energy, she definitely brought the funk and rocked it out! Engaging the audience to clap and give appreciation to her band the Boneshakers. The guitar, and drums were killer and the name, The Boneshakers, is well deserved. During the performance audience members yelled in encouragement "that's it, right there, mama." She has played with the likes of Aerosmith, Greg Allman, Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, Duran, Duran, Lee Ritenour, and Jonathan Butler.

Gregory Porter won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2014 for Liquid Spirit and in 2017 for Take Me to the Alley. His retro tones, deep and melodious as maple syrup, have garnered him world acclaim, especially in the U.K. Liquid Spirit enjoyed a commercial success rarely received by a jazz album, reaching top 10 on U.K. charts. Gregory Porter is something of an old soul. His rich baritone has been compared favorably to Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. The song" Musical Genocide" was beautiful with deep personal meaning for Porter. His jazz phrasing and runs are impeccable.

"Music is a positive influence for good and look it gathered us all into this space" Boney James announced to the audience. The four-time Grammy nominated and multi-platinum musician. is always recognizable and commanding presence on stage. It's been over twenty-five years since his 1992 album debut as leader called Trust and in 2017 his 16th was called Honestly. He said he tries to communicate the feeling he gets when he's listening to the music and that it is sincere and intimate. Then he played "Tick-Tock" from that 2017 album. There's always a feeling that he has the audience in his hands and knows it. He creates a sound tapestry with a lullaby, a groove, and a jam, all in the space of one song and then in the next song he does it again. He invited the audience to snap their fingers and when they had the rhythm, he began to play "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone" from his 1995 Seduction album. James sites his early influences as Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Earth Wind and Fire. He also mentions Tower of Power and Grover Washington Jr, as having a major impact on his music. His performance was bitter sweet, because he always puts it all out there on the stage, but it was the last performance of the festival. The festival was capped off by a short firework display in the last fifteen minutes of his performance. "Grazin' in the Grass" from the 2000 album Shake It Up, was a wonderful finale to the festival.

The festival had two pre-festival days which were filled with the cross cultural and charitable events intended to knit elements of the audience with the environment and community. In the morning there were health and wellness seminars and in the evening jazz receptions at the resort and free concerts in the community, other artists featured include, Rick Parma, Zoe Wood, and Darian Emory. There was also a masterclass taught by drummer T.S. Monk (son of Thelonious Monk) to students at the Colegio Mission School in San Jose del Cabo. Through Cabo Cares, the organization performed community outreach with local charities, The Letty Coppel Foundation, and Amigos de los Ninos to provide medical support to areas hit by Tropical Storm Lidia.

A sunset jazz cruise was offered on Friday evening for a separate fee, featuring Earnest Quarles, and Lindsay Webster. The sunset cruise was magical according to a couple of attendees from Florida, seeing El Arco at sunset with live jazz performances. On Saturday, golfers could register for a tournament at the Quivera Golf Club on a course considered one of the best 100 in the world. All told, the festival had great beginnings. It included over a year of planning and organization but at the end of the day, the creators delivered a spectacular event, that with word of mouth from audience and musicians alike, should grow and develop for many years to come.




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