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Melena Spiced up St. Andrews Jazz Festival

Melena spiced up the St. Andrews Jazz Festival with some hot Latin rhythms.

By Ricky Ricardo
Published on LatinoLA: July 12, 2016


Melena Spiced up St. Andrews Jazz Festival


The joyous sounds of America's number one art form-Jazz returned to St. Andrews Recreation Center/Park, on Sunday, July 3, 2016. Local residents near the park as well as jazz aficionados from throughout Greater Los Angeles welcomed the return of this fabulous community event.

The annual St. Andrews Jazz Festival was held from 1:00-5:00PM. This edition of the festival was presented by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, CD8, and the Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council. The festival was generously sponsored by Community Coalition, Environment Sanitation, and Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Hundreds attended the St. Andrews Jazz Festival. The festival featured live music, a kid's zone, food trucks and various vendors and resource booth. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the long 4th of July weekend, than with some Jazz on a Sunday afternoon.

Dee Dee McNeil served double duties, first as Mistress of Ceremony, introducing each group to the crowd with a brief bio. A talented group of young musicians from Washington Preparatory High School kicked off the festival. The Washington Preparatory Jazz Band featured members from the elite band, directed by Christopher Estrada. The members consist of Hiezer Montes-keyboards, Joseph Chan-drums, Joshua Thompson-bass, Christian Briones-sax and Jonathan Combera on trumpet. They sounded tight on "Now's the Time," by Charlie Parker, "Song for my Father," by Horace Silver and "Watermelon Man" by Herbie Hancock made popular by Mongo Santamaria.

Next up to perform were Edwing and JazzZone. It didn't take long before this wonderful band got into the zone, Jazz Zone that is. They laid down a set of jazz grooves that had people bopping their heads and their bodies swaying to their arrangements of "Can't Hide Love." Edwing was wonderfully assisted by Tadisha on keyboards, Billy Johnson on Percussion and Sampson Young on drums.

Singer, songwriter, poet and producer Dee Dee McNeil thrilled the crowd with the tunes "Sugar" by Stanley Turrentine, "Storyteller" dedicated to another jazz legend, Ernie Andrews and concluded with "That's My Dream."

Melena spiced up the festivities with some fiery Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz to the delight of the attentive audience. She performed a set of standards and original tunes. Their set list consisted of the tunes "Sorpresa," "Donde Andaba Anoche,"-Melena was invited to be the first female instrumentalist to record with the legendary Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro since their founding in 1927. T

hey continued their set with "Guararey," and an encore tune "Cuarto de Tula." Melena born in Havana, Cuba, has mastered the traditional rhythms that have travelled from African, to Cuba, to the dance floors all across America. Her Afro-Cuban sound is a conversation of melodies which plays with fierce passion.

Melena is a multi-talented percussionist who plays Congas, Timbales, Bata Drums and Shekere. She is an artist who exemplifies the sound of legendary players from the past to the modern sound of today. Melena has toured, performed and recorded with Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Macy Gray, Julio Iglesias, Giovanni Hidalgo, Chichi Valdes and Irater, Chino Nunez, Cheyanne, Poncho Sanchez, Rey De La Paz, Oscar Hernandez (Musical Director of Spanish Harlem Orchestra) among others. Melena has upcoming gigs that should be of interest to her fans, www.melena.com for more information.

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Council District 8, welcomed the community to the return of the St. Andrews Jazz Festival after a brief hiatus, and highlighted the improvements in his District. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson also thanked the sponsors for their support and thanked members of his staff and members of Southwest Neighborhood Council for organizing the festival.

People have come to expect a good time and to be thoroughly entertained when Barbara Morrison is on the line-up. She didn't disappoint as she sang "Summertime," "All Blues," and other gems to showcase her magnificent vocal stylings and octave. Ms. Morrison closed out another successful jazz festival on a rousing note in Los Angeles on this beautiful 4th of July weekend.

About Ricky Ricardo:
Ricky Ricardo is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer.




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