By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

        (Los Angeles, Ca.) – The most highly anticipated event of the Summer returned to Los Angeles after a hiatus due to the pandemic. Presented by the City of Los Angeles and co-hosted by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (8th District) and the Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council, this annual event celebrates the tradition of jazz, setting the stage for a fun day at St. Andrews Recreation Park, a popular neighborhood park.

        The Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council was established on March 23, 2002, and is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. ECSWANDC elections are biennially. For more information about the City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils, visit https://www.empowerLA.org 

        DJ L Double E was on deck of the ones and twos to get the party started. He erased any doubt as to ‘where the party at.’ At one point throughout the afternoon, it felt like a 90’s house party in the park. The audience was thoroughly engaged. Neekko served as Mistress of Ceremony, introducing each group and made important announcements throughout the afternoon.

        This family-friendly event included a children’s village engaging the little ones, and keeping them busy with fun activities. The Senior Tent provided the elders with seating, shade and an afternoon meal.

        The Wlyde Bunch, a group featuring alumni of Washington Preparatory High School got the festival underway on this beautiful day in Southern California. They opened their set with a jazz standard “Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard, and continued with “Can’t Help It” by Michael Jackson and concluded their great set with “Yearning for Your Love” by The Gap Band.

        Established by Lynisha and Xavier Henderson, Soulful of Noise took the stage for a celebration of music, art and culture. They brought and shared love, good music, good energy and positive vibes. They entertained the crowd with a Stevie Wonder influenced fusion of jazz and funk, followed by “You Are My Star,” and “Spell” an original song.

Skylar Ray (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Singer/songwriter Skyler Ray, of Inglewood, California, may not be a household name YET! She has been steadily lightening up stages all over the United States as well in Japan and Cuba. I’m sure that we will hear more from Skylar Ray in the near future after she left a positive mark on the recent St. Andrews Jazz Festival. She opened her set with “Tell Me Something Good” by Chaka Khan, rockin’ version of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, her soulful voice shined on “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, followed by “Crazy” Gnarls Barkley, “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson and fired up the crowd and rocked out on “Come Together” by The Beatles to conclude their set. 

Senator Sydney Kamlager and City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Congresswoman Karen Bass and Senator Sydney Kamlager stopped by in support of the Jazz Festival. Kevin Nash, Radio Personality from, Radio Free 102.3FM KJLH, served as Master of Ceremony for the second half of the show, with DJ Rtistic holding down the ones and twos, accompanied by DJ MAL-SKI.

Melena (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Melena is an independent artist and fronts her own Afro Cuban Jazz and salsa band. This was her first gig in two years, since the pandemic. She came onstage and performed a smokin’ set of Afro Cuban Jazz featuring the songs “Lluvia,” “Donde Andaba Anoche,” and “La Rumbera.

        Sensational saxophonist Mike Phillips is well known for working with giants of the music industry as a touring artist as well as a solo artist with Prince, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Mike Phillips self-titled release is heating up the radio charts. Tracks “Endlessly,” “City Lights,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is in constant rotation on the airwaves. Mike Phillips thrilled the crowd with a remix version of Pretty Young Thang” by Michael Jackson., and other tracks from his latest CD.

        This was a great way to close out another successful installment of the annual St. Andrews Jazz Festival.