Playboy Jazz Festival 2011 Pleases Music Lovers in Beverly Hills

At first, things seemed just like another day in upscale Beverly Hills until the sound waves were filled with the pleasant tunes of Tamir Hendelman Trio and Justo Almario and his Afro-Cuban group.  It was all live jazz at Beverly Hills Civic Center!

The day was sunny and hot, but Hendelman seemed as cool as ever as he sat behind his piano, his bassist and drummer at his side, and opened with the number “Wrapping Your Troubles In Dreams.” Slow and ballad-like, the music seemed to produce a calming effect on the crowd.  All the walking and talking slowly came to a stop as all eyes began to focus in on Hendelman.

Hendleman played a few other slow-tempo tunes after his opener.  The audience seemed genuinely delighted.  After ending each set, he would explain the origins and inspiration of each piece.  Some listeners may have felt a little closer to the music since he personalized things by sharing in such a manner.

The next and last act was Justo Almario, who was supported by his Afro-Cuban ensemble.  He opened with “La Piragua.”  These two gentlemen’s styles could not be more different.  Almario and his group were very rhythmic and filled the air with hard-hitting drum beats.

Crowd reaction was very different, too.  There were people singing, standing, clapping, stomping, jumping and moving around and about.  At one point, Almario’s band came off the stage and marched around the chairs, all while keeping the jam session going.

A large crowd danced and followed right behind the band members of this thumping Afro-Cuban music.  A cop was even spotted clapping his hands and moving his head to the beat as he looked down on the action from a balcony.

This day had, in fact, been a very good day for many.  People were treated to a free event, the weather was sunny and near-perfect, and everyone experiences outstanding music by two highly skilled performers.

michael marks



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