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Angel City Jazz Festival

Ford Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, Calif.; Sept. 6-7, 2009

Bennie Maupin
Satoko Fujii
Nels & Alex Cline
Dave Douglas

As a body of jazz lovers with decidedly left-leaning tastes soaked up the second-annual Angel City Jazz Festival, it was hard not to dwell on what this inspired new festival wasn’t, as well as what it was. Spread out over two long afternoon/evening sessions in the outdoor Ford Amphitheatre, one got a clear sense of delineation and contrast to the other long-standing jazz festival entity in Los Angeles, the wildly uneven Playboy Jazz Festival. That festival takes place each June, literally just across the 101 Freeway from the Ford, in the more expansive Hollywood Bowl.

Make no mistake, Angel City is tilling a fertile musical ground very much on the other side of the aesthetic perspective than the Playboy, and praises be to the Southern Californian jazz muse for that. This feisty and balanced new festival, started by former club owner Rocco Somazzi and now run with the help of L.A.-based Cryptogramophone Records founder and violinist Jeff Gauthier, offers a valuable forum for artists working in the creative and not necessarily commercial spectrum of jazz, from Southern California and far beyond.

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