I love Friday night jazz at LACMA, almost as much for the spectacle as for the music. The free event, which runs through November, has grown in popularity over its 20 years in existence. It is a cultural happening, a party, a picnic and a celebration of what is great about LA. It's one of those events that just puts everyone in a great mood and we need that more than ever right now.
This Friday hundreds turned out to listen to jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell and his big band. Every inch of grass and concrete was taken up by picnickers who brought blankets, beach chairs and an array of dining options, many getting there way ahead of the 6 p.m. start time to snag a space to sit. The crowd represents LA in all its diverse glory, and the dress code varies from beachwear to bistro. Some of these folks just ooze style, making the event a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.
There are areas designated for dancing, and LACMA provides two sections of seating which fill up fast. Situated in the courtyard in front of Chris Burden's Urban Light, you get the added pleasure of watching what happens as the sun goes down and day turns to night. Burrell received the L.A. Jazz Treasure Award from LACMA and the LA Jazz Society for his lengthy career and contributions to the jazz scene. He has played with many of the greats including Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson and Lena Horne, and made his debut in 1951 with Dizzy Gillespie.
Leading the band with an ease that comes from years of experience, Burrell was a joy to watch. There is something magical witnessing the pleasure these musicians take in playing together. Beyond that, the sound was thrilling, the weather was welcoming and the crowd so appreciative. A perfect Los Angeles night.