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Richard Elliot & Norman Brown

Funkadelic vibes fill the air in Newport Beach.

BY KRISTAL DOCTER

PHOTOS BY RALPH PALUMBO

September 9, 2011

Performing to yet another sold-out crowd, contemporary jazz musicians Richard Elliott and Norman Brown joined the stellar summer lineup of the INFINITI Summer Concert Series presented by ROLEX South Coast Plaza at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach on September 9.

Richard Elliott and Norman Brown Live in Concert

Fans seated themselves under the stars on leather-backed lawn chairs and others kept closer to the warmth of the cocktails under the pergolas above the amphitheater, but everyone was moving to the music of these Billboard chart-topping contemporary jazz artists.

Sharing the stage for the first time this year before their two-month tour together, Elliott and Brown opened the "Summer Jam" surrounded by a seasoned eight-piece band. Elliott captured the crowd's attention with an announcement that he "love[s] coming home to Newport Beach" as the audience swayed to his saxophone's smooth sounds, while Brown brought the house to their feet with funky finger-picking on his blinged out guitar.

Richard Elliott and Norman Brown Live in Concert Richard Elliott and Norman Brown Live in Concert

Known as the "James Brown of contemporary jazz," Scotland-born, L.A.-raised saxophonist Richard Elliott has been expanding his bestselling discography with a new release nearly every year since his debut album in 1986; and in 2010, Elliott won "Best Wind Player" at the American Smooth Jazz Awards after his highly-anticipated debut with Artistry Music. Sharing a few of the retro-soul grooves from that 2009 release, "Rock Steady," the saxman blew the audience away with pitch-perfect notes from his tenor and soothing sonance from an electronic wind instrument. An equally admirable solo by longtime band keyboardist Ron Reinhardt left the listeners wanting more as jazz guitarist Norman Brown joined him on the stage.

Grammy Award winner Brown is famous for his funkadelic, classic R&B guitar sound, drawing collaborators like Boyz II Men and Stevie Wonder over his 20-year career. Hitting the Hyatt stage with a piece from his new album Sending My Love, guitarist, singer and composer Brown confessed that his song "Take Me There" is about "that place we all wanna be." Arms raised and swaying, his fans reciprocated the music's welcoming, intimate vibe as the two artists closed the chilly evening with crowd-pleasing favorites and modern melodies.