by Mary Barrow
Jazz lovers came together to celebrate some of the music’s great talents at the 30th Anniversary Los Angeles Jazz Tribute Awards Dinner and Concert on Oct. 27.
More than 200 guests filled the ballroom at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City to honor 2013 Jazz Tribute Honorees and first family of Latin jazz, legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo and his talented progeny, dynamic drummer Sheila E. and multi-talented musicians Peter Michael and Juan Escovedo. Leonard Maltin served as Master of Ceremonies for the event.
It was also a night for the jazz community to pay homage to the highly respected flutist and saxophonist Hubert Laws, member of AFM Local 802 in New York, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the L.A. Jazz Society for a career spanning over 40 years in jazz, classical and other music genres.
Honored with Jazz Educator Awards for their commitment and contributions to the Jazz Society’s Jazz in Schools program, which introduces jazz to more than 23,000 Los Angeles elementary school children each year, were Jazz Hall of Fame artist, saxophonist Ernie Fields Jr., master woodwind musician Charles Owens, and pianist Delbert “The Maestro” Taylor.
Each year the Jazz Society also recognizes an extraordinary new talent with the Shelly Manne Memorial New Talent Award. This year’s recipient was 14 year-old drummer/percussionist, Alex Smith of Los Angeles, who was presented with his award by Jazz Society President Florence “Flip” Manne.
A concert featuring the honored musicians began with the Alex Smith Trio. The young drummer displayed his talents on the tunes “Double Bunk,” “Recordame,” and “Take the Coltrane.” Hubert Laws delivered a lush rendition of “Lush Life” with guitarist Larry Koonse, then was joined by Tierney Sutton who sang her own lyrics to “Zingaro/Portrait in Black and White.” Charles Owens and Maestro Delbert Taylor with Leslie Baker on bass and Dr. Maria Martinez on drums performed “Wildfire” and an Ellington medley.
Bringing it full circle in a Latin jazz frenzy, the Escovedo Family and their band had the crowd dancing in a joyful conclusion to the evening with Sheila E leading on “The E Medley,” Pete Escovedo crooning “Fly to the Moon,” and the band wrapping it all up with “What Ya Gonna Do?”
The Jazz Tribute Awards Dinner and Concert is the primary fundraiser for the nonprofit Los Angeles Jazz Society’s highly respected jazz education programs including, Jazz in Schools, that benefits thousands of students in the Los AngelesUnifiedSchool District annually.
Hugh Hefner served as honorary 30th Anniversary Tribute Chair, with Tribute co-chairs Lani and Herb Alpert, Carole and James Barrall, and Cathy and Howard Stone. Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti was Honorary Dinner Chair, while Jazz Society Vice President, Lois Saffian and Richard Parker served as event chairs.