I had a chance to catch the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival, on Sunday May 27, 2007. The festival was a perfect start to a season filled with music, ushering in the Memorial Day Weekend, and the beginning of summer. The two day event is a regular function in Los Angeles, and this year’s line up was as spectacular as ever. Luciano, Jill Scott, Cham, Lupe Fiasco, and J’Davey are just a few of the acts that rocked the open air summer stage over two days. The UCLA fairground is a huge venue, with vendors serving food and drinks, as well as merchants with booths full of T-Shirts, CDs, books, and all sorts of goodies. I was only able to catch Sunday’s show, but the performances were more than enough to satisfy.
While I did miss Dujeous,the opening act, by the time I found my way to a nice plot of land to lay the blankets and assorted accessories, Christian Scott was serenading the early crowd with his jazz band in tow. Scott and his band rocked the house with their funky jazz breaks, with Scott’s trumpet in lead. Christian and his horn can be heard on the new CD Rewind That, as well as on the song “Prison”, off the X-Clan Return From Mecca album. Make sure you are on the watch for this rising jazz star and his band.
Soulive was the next group onstage, and the newly signed Stax Records act brought their blend of reggae, R&B, and southern soul to the Westwood concert goers. The band has added a lead singer, Toussaint, and his soulful delivery is a welcome addition to the well known sound of Soulive.
J’Davey brought their funky, electro, punk, R&B vibe to JamFest, with Ms. Davey rocking the set with her playful voice and her stage performance. One of the more anticipated groups out of Los Angeles, the newly signed Warner Brothers act did their thing and brought the energy level up.
Les Nubian came out next with their Fela inspired face paint, and international sound. The duo did some of their hits like "Temperature Rising", “Taboo”, "Makeda", "Demain" and covered some of their newer material before giving the stage up to Lupe Fiasco. The crowd rushed to the stage and it was clear who many of the crowd came to see!
Lupe ran out on stage and proceeded to tear it down, opening with Jay-Z’s “What Cha Got” before going into his verse from Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky”. Fiasco did his cuts “Kick, Push” and raised the roof with his powerful “American Terrorist”. Before he left, he gave one of the best performances of the day, and prepared the stage for the headliner, Jill Scott.
Jill Scott’s band came out to the roar of the crowd as everyone in attendance came closer to the stage. With a nice welcoming intro, Jill emerged from stage right, and began her set. Opening with her most recent hit, “Golden”, she went on to play her impressive list of hit songs. “Getting In The Way”, “Whatever”, and “Cross My Mind” were all performed to the sheer delight to Scott’s fans. When she went into “He Loves Me” and extended the song into a falsetto, mini opera, the crowd was floored.
As she closed her set, she was told she had more time, so Scott and the band gave us an unreleased song from her upcoming album. The hook escapes me but the song was a funky, up beat dedication to the haters out there who help keep many people from fulfilling their dreams. With that she exited the stage and brought the day to a close. As the sun set behind the mountains and the crowd began leave the field, the summer music season began with a bang.