By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com

The Hollywood Bowl is celebrating 100 years of providing a premier musical experience for its audience. Forced to cancel this event the past couple of years due to the coronavirus pandemic, they brought in well-known comedian and avid jazz fan Arsenio Hall to host the return of the renamed Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival. Once known as the Playboy Jazz Festival, this festival is on the first weekend of the summer season.

As the Hollywood Bowl opened its doors to a multitude of music fans for its annual Jazz Festival, the fans will get to enjoy their recent facilities upgrade. The hundred-year-old facility endured a renovation in 2012 of all public restrooms, while LED jumbo screens were added to the venue. The new LED screens are brighter and less susceptible to interference from ambient light, making them particularly suitable for early evening Bowl concerts.

Arsenio Hall had an eclectic group of performances to introduce to the fans who brought their coolers, snacks, and their choice of libations to this historic venue. They’ve also added more bench seating for the concert-goers to enjoy, rather than forcing late concert-goers to sit on the grass.

Southern California concert-goers have seen legendary artists like Billie Holiday, The Beatles, and Yo-Yo Ma have performed under the iconic arched band shell. Hollywood Bowl has become the premier destination to hear live music for concert-goers in Southern California. 

Beloved jazz vocalist Gregory Porter, jazz drummer, and producer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science. Tower of Power, Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers, chanteuse Veronica Swift, bluesman Fantastic Negrito, veteran vocalist Carmen Lundy, jazz pianist, and composer Gerald Clayton are among the artists that graced the stage for the concert goers this past weekend. Pianist and saxophonist Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, jazz saxophonist extraordinaire Azar Lawrence with the Azar Lawrence Experience also dazzled the crowd, along with Nigerian superstar Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, guitar virtuoso Cory Wong, jazz trumpeter, composer and producer Chief aTunde Adjuah.

The year’s Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival was produced in unison with the Los Angeles Philharmonic by FestivalWest, Inc. Click here for more information on the 2022 Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival and its future events. Headlining this year’s festival would be the world-renowned group The Roots, who also serve as the house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” 

Back in 1987, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter met while attending the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and formed the legendary group The Roots. The duo performed on the street corners of Philadelphia, Questlove playing bucket drums while Black Thought spitting over those enticing rhythms.

Dating back to its opening years this venue has seen some of the most notable performers. In 1954 Nat “King” Cole and his trio made their debut at the Bowl. The documented first jazz recording ever made at the Bowl was by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, and the Oscar Peterson Trio, who performed at a sold-out show.

Musical icons like Stevie Wonder to Madonna have joined Miles Davis and Gil Evans as some of the most influential jazz artists of the 20th century to play Jazz at the Bowl series. Some of the best artists of all time in any genre have performed in this iconic venue. Artists like Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, and Whitney Houston all have graced the stage at this iconic venue. 

Considering what the world has been through over the past couple of years, the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival offered an enjoyable respite from today’s challenges. Share your thoughts on your experience at a Hollywood Bowl concert. Although they have transitioned to a no-cash facility which caused some initial consternation, the night was relaxing and enjoyable overall. Let us know your thoughts by reaching out to me on Twitter @_voiceofthefans, or email me at voiceofthefans@outlook.com. I also encourage you to forward suggestions on what angles or topics you would like to see discussed in the coming weeks.