By Patte Purcell
Wow, what a concert! Michael Paulo producer, entertainer and Sax Man extraordinaire put on the finest smooth jazz show I’ve seen in the desert. ‘Grooves at the Westin’ is a continuation of the popular jazz series which started at the La Quinta Resort 5 years ago. Its new home at the Westin Hotel and Spa in Rancho Mirage is the pinnacle of possible venues to hold such an event. Marketing Director Jim Pedone has promoted this series since its inception at the La Quinta Resort and has spent 15 years marketing smooth jazz. His association and friendship with Michael has been a driving force. His passion for smooth jazz has taken this to a new level with this series.
The star filled sky, framed by palms, was the setting for a night filled with the smooth sounds of Gregg Karrukas, Brian Simpson, Saxtress Jessy J, Land Richards on drums, Adam Hawley on lead guitar, and Darryl Williams on bass.
The biggest surprise was an appearance from super star trumpeter Rick Braun. He rocked the house and the whole band jammed together for several songs including the finale. What a night!
Michael Paulo brings world class experience to the smooth jazz concert scene. He also produces the ever popular ‘Temecula Wine and Music Show’ which will be celebrating its 13th season this year. As one of the most versatile and cosmopolitan saxophonists in pop, soul and contemporary jazz, for nearly 20 years, Michael Paulo has added his distinct sound to a virtual who’s who of artists, including: Al Jarreau , James Ingram, number one smooth jazz trumpeter and guitarist Rick Braun and Peter White, Oleta Adams, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Carl Anderson, Bobby Caldwell, Johnny Mathis and others.
The All Star line up showcased some of the biggest names in smooth Jazz. The 2013 Grammy Award winner, Gregg Karukas, continues to place on Billboard’s Top Jazz Songs with “Elegant Nights,” released in 2014. As a solo artist, Karukas’ 11 CDs have garnered consistently solid reviews for his signature piano touch, pristine production, and melodies that are both soulful and sophisticated.
Also performing was celebrated keyboardist, composer and studio musician, Brian Simpson. The chart-topping musical chameleon has been the ‘go-to’ man for everyone from Janet Jackson and Teena Marie to George Duke, Stanley Clarke and Dave Koz, for whom he has had the distinction of being musical director for the past 15 years.
Nouveau sax-woman Jessy J burst onto the contemporary jazz scene in 2008, blending her love for Latin rhythms and jazz on her chart-topping, award-winning debut album Tequila Moon. Jessy J has worked in studio with Michael Bublé and toured with music icons Michael Bolton, The Temptations, Jessica Simpson and Seal.
Hiroshima concludes the spring series on Saturday, May 16. With over 30 years performing together, Hiroshima offers crowds an unforgettable musical experience. Their unique blend of Japanese instruments, with the smooth rhythm of Western R&B, makes them the number one Asian-American band in the world. All shows take place at the outdoor Masters Plaza and begin at 7:00 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m. Ticket prices range between $45 and $75. For more information about the resort visit www.westinmissionhills.com or call (760) 770-2150. For concert tickets visit www.tix.com.