By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

Over 2,000 music aficionados, art patrons and foodies came together at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, southeast upper parking deck on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
        Attendees came to shop, dine, dance, groove and to listen to America’s #1 Art form- JAZZ, and some hot Latin Jazz, on another beautiful, picturesque day in Southern California.
        The occasion was the return of the popular Leimert Park Jazz Festival, Executive Produced by Diane Robertson in association with The World Stage, Dwight Trible, Executive Director. The Leimert Park Jazz Festival has already landed in the top tier of jazz festivals in Southern California in its 3rd year. Festival attendees bookmark and book their calendars in advance in order to attend this premiere, classic jazz festival. Jazz, Community and Culture was on full display throughout the afternoon.
        DJ Eartha Littt and DJ Merc80 complimented the vibes of the festival with an eclectic soundtrack as people arrived for the festival and in between performances throughout the afternoon.
        Back by popular demand, LeRoy Downs served as Master of Ceremony. The Los Angeles jazz radio program & festival host, journalist and television producer could be heard on 89.9FM, hosting a weekly Sunday night radio show called “Just Jazz.”
        Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center Youth Jazz Band kicked off the show with an explosive big band sound as they superbly performed arrangements of “R U Chicken,” “Red Clay,” “Human Nature,” and “Before I Let Go.” These talented students are keeping the flames of jazz lit, and carrying the jazz torch forward.
        Fender Play Foundation was on site to host a Music Class Pop-up in partnership with the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. Attendees between the ages of 7-18 were able to pick-up an instrument and learn to play. No prior experience required. The Music Class Pop-up gives students an opportunity to pick-up and play guitars and ukuleles together, with hopes to inspire future engagement in music learning activities with Fender Play Foundation and the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. In addition to the Music Class Pop-up, the Fender Play Foundation had an info table inside the Fender Tent to use for program awareness.
        Ed Magee, Fender’s EVP of Operations and Co-President of Fender Play Foundation and Charmaine Jefferson, Board of Directors were on site to speak about the Fender Play Foundation, Music Class Pop-up and the importance of music and arts in education for youth. They also encourage the crowd to support Yes on 28.
        S.H.I.N.E Muwasi honored the spirit of the Ancestors as well as the life and legacy of community icons who have transitioned. S.H.I.N.E Muwasi Women’s African Drum Circle is a group of women lead by Rene Fisher-Mims who formed the group to spread the knowledge of West African drum culture combined with healing, empowerment and inspiration.

The Leimert Park Experience featuring Dwight Trible on vocals and a stellar group of young lions from Los Angeles who have made their mark on the jazz landscape locally, nationally and internationally. Ryan Porter on trombone, Aaron Shaw on tenor saxophone, Ian Martin on bass and Lyndon Rochelle on drums. The group performed “Trust in God” by Ryan Porter with a chorus of Amen by the audience. They continued with “Isle of Love” by Cameron Graves, followed by “the Get Out of the Ghetto Blues” by Gil Scott-Heron, with Dwight Trible on vocals.
        A heartfelt and touching tribute to Barbara Morrison and Derf Reflaw consisted of spoken word pieces by Conney D. Williams, “My Name in your Mouth,” and “Elixir.” The daughters of Derf Reklaw, Amani Walker Jackson and Monilade Walker paid tribute to their dad. Munyungo Jackson Jr., and Dwight Trible contributed a musical tribute to Derf Reklaw. Vocalist Chloe Vaught shared a memorable anecdote about how she met Barbara Morrison, followed by a beautiful rendition of “In a Sentimental Mood.” Bianca also spoke during the tribute, followed by the release of white balloons and white doves into the air.
        Nine-time Grammy® nominee, and award winner John Beasley brought his smashing 16-piece big band called Monk’estra to Leimert Park Jazz Festival for a rousing set. They opened their set with “Little Rudy Tootie,” by Thelonious Monk, followed by “Donna Lee” by Charlie Parker, and “Minuano” by Pat Methany, with special guest vocalist extraordinaire, Diane Reeves. You can only imagine the pure joy in the air hearing the name Diane Reeves and the actual performance. Dwight Trible joined the band as they concluded their set with “Africa.”
        Kamau Daáood is a native of Los Angeles where he co-founded with Billy Higgins, The World Stage Performance Gallery, a non-profit arts institution in Leimert Park Village. Kamau Daáood and A Band of Griots (Mark de Clive-Lowe on piano, Teodross Avery on saxophone, Jeffrey Littleton on bass, and Dexter Story on drums. They highlighted Leimert Par Village, the heart of Los Angeles’ African American cultural community, and several of the musical icons of the area on “Healer Suite,” “Leimert Park,” “Poppa” for Horace Tapscott and “A Walk with the Pharaoh” (Pharaoh Sanders).
        Pete Escovedo & Family fired up the proceedings with a heavy dose of Latin Jazz marinated in piquant sauce. Pete Escovedo & Family performed “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” “Mas Que Nada,” La Cuna,” with a nice piano intro by Jonathan Montez. Vocalist Lynne Fiddmont joined the band for “Let’s Stay Together,” “Ain’t Nobody,” and “Dindi” (pronounced Gingi). The band went out with “Whatcha Gonna Do.”
        The Jazz Classics featuring Patrice Rushen on piano, Ernie Watts on Sax, Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums and Edwin Livingston on bass, followed by Munyungo’s Jungle Jazz (accompanied by members of Lula Washington Dance Theater’s Youth Dance Ensemble) brought the festival to a rousing conclusion in their respective time in the spotlight.
        2022 Leimert Park Jazz Festival Art Competition Winner was on site to showcased her awesome artwork as well as the previous Leimert Park Jazz Festival Art Competition winners.
California State Assemblymen Isaac G. Bryan, District 54, and Diane Robertson, Executive Producer, Leimert Park Jazz Festival, acknowledged the artistic and creative talents of Peighton Mercier, winner of the 3rd Annual Leimert Park Art Competition.
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