Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Doctor's Notes: Lonnie Smith's Rejuvenating Jazz

Photo by Luke Ratray

By Cristofer Gross

Photo by Mark Sheldon
To get a preview of Hammond B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith's Center debut this weekend, I went back to his 2012 CD, The HealerAgain, I was immediately pulled in by the less-is-more interplay of Smith and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, who along with drummer Johnathan Blake accompanies the organist in Samueli Theater this Friday and Saturday. 

The way they weave together various styles and rhythms produces music that is both immediate and timeless. 

"The sound is a combination," Smith says. "You have fusion, mixed in with hip-hop, jazz, and funk without even thinking or trying to do that." At 71, Smith has clearly gotten the upper hand on time. Whether it's a single song tempo, the signature beat of an era, or his life, there's an energy that comes across. You can't help but feel rejuvenated. "I think his specialty is making people feel something," Kreisberg says. "I've seen an audience rise to their feet and lose their woes. He's almost like a healer, you know, and that's how we got the idea." 

When Ramsey Lewis wanted a segment on the Hammond B-3 for his 13-episode series, Legends of Jazz, in 2006, he invited two greats from two generations: Smith and Joey DeFrancesco, who appeared here a couple years back with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. Now it's Smith's turn to show how it's done.

He continues to appeal to artists of every era, with his music recently sampled by Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige. "I don't even think about the age because I don't feel that way," Smith adds. "I'm just doing it and it feels great: Just doing it while I have a chance to do it."

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Win Dinner for Two and a Trip to Oz

Danielle Wade as Dorothy and Robin Evan Willis as Glinda in THE WIZARD OF OZ
 Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann ©2013 Canadian Cast

A magical production of THE WIZARD OF OZ comes to Segerstrom Center for the Arts this month, and the Center and the Patina Group would like to make someone’s special wish come true. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home”! Show us what home means to you, and you could win a memorable evening on Saturday, February 22, 2014. The winner will enjoy dinner for two at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, selecting from Executive Chef Ross Pangilian’s THE WIZARD OF OZ themed menu, and attend the show at 7:30 p.m. in Segerstrom Hall. 

Here’s how to enter: 
Follow @PatinaGroup on Instagram and @Patina_Group on Twitter! Submit a photo of your favorite home-cooked meal on either social media channel. Include the hashtags #SCFTAPRGFoodies and #WizardOC.* Easy, right? Send in your submissions by Wednesday, February 19 to be eligible. 

*Alternate hashtags to use: #PRGHome #SCFTAFoodies #SegerstromPRGFoodies 

For rules and THE WIZARD OF OZ menu, click here

For more information about THE WIZARD OF OZ and to purchase tickets, click here. 

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Center Favorites Make Olympian Impressions in Sochi

Ivan Vasiliev in the opening ceremony
Among Russia’s great artists and cultural ambassadors to the world who performed during the opening ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics were Maestro Valery Gergiev, general and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, and dancers Diana Vishneva and Ivan Vasiliev. Gergiev has appeared at the Center many times and is probably best remembered for bringing the Mariinsky Orchestra, Ballet and Opera for the opening celebrations of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006. 

Maestro Valery Gergiev conducts in the 
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006

The brilliant Diana Vishneva swirled among other dancers on the Sochi stadium floor until they eventually created the shape of a dove, which was followed by opera star Anna Netrebko singing the Olympic anthem. Among Vishneva’s many appearances at the Center, she has starred in two solo evenings created for her by the Center in association with Ardani Artists – Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion and Diana Vishneva: On the Edge. Her performance in Beauty in Motion won Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask award for the Center, that nations’ highest accolade for achievement in the arts. 

Diana Vishneva in the opening ceremony

Following his appearance in the opening ceremony, one report said, "The brilliant Ivan Vasiliev brought the stadium down with astonishing leaps.” Vasiliev has also appeared at the Center. He has been seen here with the Bolshoi Ballet, in two Tour de Force gala evenings, Reflections and Kings of Dance. He returns in July with Natalia Osipova in a special night titled Solo for Two. Included in that program will be two world premieres.

Dancers with Diana Vishneva, center

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