Lavay Smith & Red Hot Skillet Lickers Perform Free Concert May 4

Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers will perform a free concert on Sunday, May 4, in Beverly Hills, Calif., the first in a series of three community events sponsored by the Playboy Jazz Festival. The event also will feature Grammy-nominated Latin jazz trumpeter-band leader Bobby Rodriguez and his salsa band.

The concert, presented in cooperation with the city of Beverly Hills, will be staged from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza, 450 N. Rexford Drive, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Burton Way. It precedes the 30th Anniversary Playboy Jazz Festival on June 14-15 at the Hollywood Bowl.

Lavay Smith, reigning diva of the swing scene, will perform a repertoire of classic hits made popular by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others. Smith has gained an international fan base since the formation of her band in 1989. Her big, bluesy voice and provocative style was inspired by artists such as Dinah Washington and Ray Charles. She will perform new material from her upcoming album, as well as classics such as “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" and “It Don't Mean a Thing." When not touring internationally, Smith and her ensemble of four horns, guitar, piano and bass perform at the Caf du Nord in San Francisco, where they have been appearing for more than seven years.

A Grammy nominee with several platinum and gold records to his credit, Rodriguez has performed with stars including Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Christina Aguilera, Wynton Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval and many others. Rodriguez's sizzling salsa style combines the traditional Latin rhythms with be-bop improvisation and contemporary sounds. The concert will include material from his latest CD, “Celebration," and feature rising stars Max Haymer on piano and Ricky Hopkins on saxophone.

“Our Beverly Hills concert has become a popular tradition as the kick-off for the annual Playboy Jazz Festival season. This year's roster of talent promises a lively afternoon of upbeat jazz entertainment at the Civic Center's attractive outdoor performing arts venue in celebration of our 30th anniversary," said Richard Rosenzweig, Playboy Jazz Festival president.

Food and refreshments will be on sale, but glass containers, alcoholic beverages and audio-video recorders are not permitted. Two free hours of parking are available at the Civic Center parking structure, adjacent to the Beverly Hills Public Library.

The festival, June 14-15, which attracts 18,000 listeners each day in the outdoor amphitheater, will feature a variety of jazz genres performed by celebrated and upcoming musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Keb' Mo', Dee Dee Bridgewater, James Moody, Dr. John, Tower of Power, RnR (Richard Elliot-tenor sax, Rick Braun-trumpet), Roy Hargrove, Hiromi, Guitars and Saxes, Ivan Lins, The Cos of Good Music and much more.

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