5th Annual Sutro Avenue Summer Soirée & Jazz Festival 

 S.H.I.N.E. Mawusi Women's African Drum Group. (Courtesy Photo)
S.H.I.N.E. Mawusi Women’s African Drum Group. (Courtesy Photo)

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles- A cultural gem in Historic Leimert Park has reached a major milestone. I’m referring to the Sutro Avenue Summer Soirée & Jazz Festival, celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Saturday, August 3, 2019, from 12noon-7:00PM. The festival took place on Sutro Avenue between 42nd Street and 43rd Street.

The Summer Soirée & Jazz Festival had something for everyone to enjoy and be engaged. The event featured a DJ, eclectic array of food tucks, inter-active kids’ zone, Community Resources Zone, Health & Wellness Zone, Jazz Lounge and (Hosted) Wine Lounge, Photo booth, Prize Drawings and much more.

I can honestly say this was my first time attending this very popular community event. I was very impressed by the layout, ambiance, atmosphere and attendance (diverse crowd). The Sutro Avenue Summer Soirée & Jazz Festival has been added to my most attend annual events.

 Maestro The Vocalinist. (Courtesy Photo)
Maestro The Vocalinist. (Courtesy Photo)

This well respected and highly anticipated event of Summer plays a vital part in promoting family, community and the arts.

Event Producer Diane Robertson in partnership with Dwight Trible and The World Stage assembled a stellar line-up of top notched musicians to entertain the crowd of jazz aficionados and music lovers. The World Stage is an educational and performance art space in Leimert Park. www.worldstage.org The Jazz Lounge Emcee was the ever-popular Radio Personality LeRoy Downs, aka The Jazzcat.

The festival officially got under way with a thunderous set by S.H.I.N.E Mawusi Women’s African Drumming Group led by Rene Fisher Mims. The group played rhythms representing West Africa. They opened their set with an Opening Prayer Chant that summoned the spirit of our Ancestors.

The program continued with the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center (FPCAC) Jazz Band. This awesome group of talented young musicians have performed statewide as well as globally with some famous artists. The band is under the tutelage of Fernando Pullum who consistently fronts a band of dedicated musicians committed to keeping the jazz flames alive. They performed a set of tunes that they jazzed up with their masterful arrangements. They performed “Are You Chicken,” followed by “Squiggly.” Sister Linda Saunders, Executive Director, Marcus Garvey School, joined the band to sing “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by the late great Donny Hathaway. Next up was a funky, swinging version of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, and concluded with “Cold Sweat” to get the crowd on the dance floor.

Maestro The Vocalinist (Violin/Vocals), songwriter, composes music influenced by his world travels, he seamlessly creates sounds incorporating a variety of genres. Maestro The Vocalinist entertained and engaged the audience with the following tunes “Nature Boy,” “Summertime,” “Best Part,” “Vivir Mi Vida” sang flawlessly in Spanish. He concluded his set with an original tune “Isis Clasis” with audience members harmonizing along with the band. Maestro The Vocalinist was accompanied onstage with Gerald “Pacman” Dixon on keyboards and Bam Bam on drums.

DJ MERC80 manned the ones and twos to spin eclectic sounds in between acts to the delight of an appreciative audience.

Congresswomen Dianne Watson dropped by to enjoy the festivities and to show her support of the wonderful work that Diane Robertson is doing in the community.

Karen A. Clark is an incredible actress, singer, songwriter, producer, public speaker and marketer. She made a return engagement to the festival. Her captivating performance consisted of tunes from her latest CD The Karen A. Clark Project is available iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and most digital outlets. Her first CD A Corporate Affair is available by special order. You probably were fortunate to have seen her critically acclaimed show “Love Stories-Tales of an African Queen” and one women theatrical show “The Women.” Her set featured the tunes “Passing Through My Ghetto,” “Never Die,” “Summertime,” “I’m Determined,” and “Crazy” about her experience in the dating scene.

Percussionist Derf Reklaw is world renown multi-instrumentalist, composer, lecturer and educator. His tight band-Derf Reklaw Da Cuz Mo, consisted of Michael Alvidrez-bass, Reggie Clark-drums/percussions, Jae Jei Kabassa-percussions, and Robert Turner-piano. The crowd and I went on a musical journey through West Africa and the United States with their excellent arrangement of jazz standards. The highlight of their set featured “Salute to the Band Box” by Gigi Gryce and a Latin tinge “Havana Moon” by Chuck Berry.

Lynne Fiddmont is an in-demand studio and touring singer who is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She landed her first gig with the Jazz Crusaders after graduating from College. It doesn’t get any better than that. Lynne Fiddmont thrilled the crowd with her vocal stylings and phrasing on the following tunes “Good Time Party,” “All The Way,” “It’s a Holiday,” “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me,” God Bless The Child,” “Flying Easy,” “Night and Day,” and concluded her set with “Groovy People.”

The Myron McKinley Trio is a powerhouse group comprising multi-hyphenates Myron McKinley-keyboards, Ian Martin-bass and Shawn Horton-drums. Their high-octane set featured original and some classic popular tunes “Can’t Hide Love,” “Labyrinth,” “Native Lament,” “Party for Jackie,” and “Incantation.

The festival concluded on a rousing note with Father/Son duo Pete Escovedo-percussions and Peter Michael Escovedo-percussions. The legendary Pete Escovedo is an artist who broke down the barriers between Smooth jazz, Salsa, Latin Jazz and contemporary music. Peter Michael Escovedo III is a two-time Emmy-nominated Producer and Musical Director. The band produced brilliant sparks of musical magic from Pete Escovedo’s extensive catalog of hits to close out the 5th Annual Sutro Avenue Summer Soiree & Jazz Festival. The band consisted of Pete Escovedo-timbales/congas, Peter Michael Escovedo-drums, Nando Raio-bass, Justo Almario-sax, Joey Navarro-keyboards, Michael Angel-guitar.

The event was made possible by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs and with the support of Community Partner. The event was made possible by the generous contributions from the office of Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr.