Arts And Culture

Central Avenue jazz fest to feature musical tribute to late Etta James

July 16, 2012, 12:47 p.m.

All City Jazz Band played at last year's event. (credit: Derrick Taruc)

The Central Avenue Jazz Festival returns to South L.A. this month for two days of food, music and crafts. This will be the 17th year for the event which celebrates the musical history of Central Avenue and is one of the largest summer events for South L.A.

The festival takes place at the intersection of Central and 42nd Street in front of the Dunbar Hotel, which helps pay tribute to the "rich culture and heritage" of the area's history that dates back to its golden era in the '20s and '40s.

“Each year we celebrate the rich history of Central Avenue, by bringing some of the greatest talents in blues, jazz, and Latin jazz together for an outstanding summer festival," said the area's councilwoman Jan Perry in a statement. "With the restoration of the historic Dunbar Hotel currently underway we have a lot to celebrate."

The Dunbar used to be a venue for performers from Billie Holliday to Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and keeping with the spirit of the building's musical history, the Sons of Etta will be performing a tribute to the late Etta James at this year's festival.

In recent years, the historic hotel has been undergoing renovations to space into more than 80 units of affordable housing that will make up the Dunbar Village. The Los Angeles Times reports that the $14 million project will create three properties; two apartment buildings of subsidized housing and one in the hotel that will be reserved for seniors.

The annual jazz festival has free admission and typically attracts about 35,000 people, according to the organization's website.

This year's performance schedule is as follows:

Saturday, July 28
11:40 am - LAUSD All-City High School Jazz Band
1:05 pm - Diana Holling Band
2:25 pm - Sons of Etta: Tribute to Etta James (featuring Donto James, Thelma Jones, & Jimmy Z)
3:50 pm - The New Jump Blues (featuring Antonio Fargas & Danielle Withers)
5:20 pm - Gerald Wilson Orchestra

Sunday, July 29
11:45 am - Jazz America
1:10 pm - Ernie Andrews
2:30 pm - Phil Ranelin
3:50 pm - The Ray Goren Band
5:20 pm - Poncho Sanchez

Musical highlights from last year's event includes Pete Escovedo, Ernie Andrews, and Deacon Jones with Ray Goren.

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