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Lites Out Jazz Festival Brightens the Smooth Jazz Scene

To ‘bite’ off an old Rodney Dangerfield joke:  “I went to a fundraiser and a Smooth Jazz concert broke out.”  I attended the ‘Permission to Talk ‘ fundraising event Lites Out Jazz on the Beach  Smooth Jazz concert in Oceanside CA  last weekend. The event was sponsored by the Ol’Loreece Foundation whose focus is to save and extend the lives of men by providing them much-needed health information.

The  line-up was modest by most mega SJ concert standards but the performances were big, starting with keyboardist Brian Simpson and guitarist Marc Antoine, veteran SJ artists. Simpson’s effortless blending of jazzy keys, soulful tempo and funky beats is always a treat. He throughly entertained, grabbing his keytar (an instrument that personally, reminds me of a kids toy ; Brian somehow makes it work) hopping off the stage and hanging with the fans. Marc Antoine’s smooth, sweet, and contemporary latin style guitar, with just the right amount of smoldering heat provided a delightful complement and contrast of styles. It was a great set made even better by the band’s bass player  Andre Berry whose ‘smoking hot’ bass solo was jaw dropping. And it just got better.

Guitarist Steve Cole followed. Steve’s guitar is crisp, clean, upbeat and always a pleasure to listen too. His scat singing is not too bad either – for a guitar player.  To round it out the show ended with relative newcomer, saxophonist Eric Darius. Darius’ high voltage performance style is matched by his energetic saxophone playing and songs. However he slowed it down and ‘worked’ a version of Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You” that had the crowd practically swooning.

The real story here are the Paynes, Willie and Kathy. This concert proved that they are patrons of Smooth Jazz. Owners of Payne Pest Management, they are also board members of the Ol’Loreece Foundation and were also title sponsors for the highly successful 2014 San Diego Jazz Festival held last Memorial Day. How refreshing to discover that there are still people out there who aren’t afraid to unapologetically embrace and promote Smooth Jazz .


Marc Antoine at Lites Out Jazz

This was a  real Smooth Jazz concert. It was clearly about the music and the fans. The venue was amazing right; on the beach and the emcee’s were two of So Cal favorite on-air personalities  Kelly Cole, host of weekly radio show ‘Lites Out’ on KPRI  and Tayari Howard, of KKSD. The tickets were reasonably priced, parking was plentiful, there was food, drinks, and plenty of happy concert goers.  A beautiful saxophone signed by over 30 Smooth Jazz artists was auctioned off as part of the fundraising efforts.  I love it!  A party with a purpose!

The foundation plans to make this an annual event.  To that I say “see you next year’.

For more information on Permission to Talk and the Ol’Loreece Foundation click here.