When the Playboy Jazz Festival returns to the Hollywood Bowl on June 15-16, it will welcome a new master of ceremonies: George Lopez. Joining the Grammy-nominated comedian and actor will be a lineup that includes newly minted Grammy winner Robert Glasper Experiment, recent Grammy nominee Gregory Porter, India.Arie, Sheila E., Trombone Shorty, Bob James/David Sanborn, George Duke with Jeffrey Osborne, Angelique Kidjo with Hugh Masekela and Taj Mahal.
The new host and performer lineup were announced during a press conference at the Playboy Mansion on Thursday afternoon (Feb. 28).
From left: Poncho Sanchez, who will be performing at the fest with Olé Coltrane, Jeffrey Osborne and George Lopez
The two-day fest, marking its 35th anniversary, will also present three world premieres. These include Naturally 7 with special guest Herbie Hancock; an 80th birthday salute to Quincy Jones by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with special guests Patti Austin and Hubert Laws; and jazz pianist Elew who, like India.Arie and Mahal, is making his first appearance at the festival. In addition, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet will perform a special tribute to the late Dave Brubeck.
Lopez inherits emcee duties from Bill Cosby, who helmed the fest for more than 30 years. Described as the “perfect choice” to host by Playboy Jazz Festivals president emeritus Richard Rosenzweig, Lopez deemed it a “most tremendous honor” to get the call from Cosby to be emcee. He also noted that Cosby was giving him pointers like “don’t let the musicians in your dressing room because they will eat up all your food.”
Herbie Hancock (in glasses) chats with festival president emeritus Richard Rosenzweig; flanking the duo on the left is Jeffrey Osborne
Lopez later told Billboard.biz that he’s a longtime jazz fan. “To attend the show in this capacity is beyond whatever I could have imagined.” A guitar enthusiast, he noted that he’d also “love to play one song” with an act during the show. “That’s my goal.”
Joining Lopez, Rosenzweig and festival producer Darlene Chan at the press conference were Jones, Hancock, Poncho Sanchez, Hubert Laws, Jeffrey Osborne and Sheila E.