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UPDATED: Stephen K. Peeples: Bachelor bash at the Bowl

Playboy Jazz Festival this weekend; Hefner marries June 19

Posted: June 10, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: June 20, 2011 3:00 p.m.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner talked with reporters backstage at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner talked with reporters backstage at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner talked with reporters backstage at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11.
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11, was the last time Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and soon-to-be-former-fiance appeared in public. This could be their last kiss. Their engagement was off less than 24 hours later. The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11, was the last time Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and soon-to-be-former-fiance appeared in public. This could be their last kiss. Their engagement was off less than 24 hours later.
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11, was the last time Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and soon-to-be-former-fiance appeared in public. This could be their last kiss. Their engagement was off less than 24 hours later.
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including the Cos of Good Music featuring Anat Cohen (left) George Bohannon (center) and leader Bill Cosby (right). The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including the Cos of Good Music featuring Anat Cohen (left) George Bohannon (center) and leader Bill Cosby (right).
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including the Cos of Good Music featuring Anat Cohen (left) George Bohannon (center) and leader Bill Cosby (right).
Blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and his 12-year-old protege Quinn Sullivan blew the audience away on Sunday, June 12, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and his 12-year-old protege Quinn Sullivan blew the audience away on Sunday, June 12, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and his 12-year-old protege Quinn Sullivan blew the audience away on Sunday, June 12, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Members of the a cappella group Naturally 7 meet the music media backstage on Sunday, June 12, after the group's set at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Members of the a cappella group Naturally 7 meet the music media backstage on Sunday, June 12, after the group's set at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Members of the a cappella group Naturally 7 meet the music media backstage on Sunday, June 12, after the group's set at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grammy-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe led the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Grammy-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe led the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grammy-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe led the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
"American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams performed "World on a String" in a guest spot with the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. "American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams performed "World on a String" in a guest spot with the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
"American Idol" finalist Casey Abrams performed "World on a String" in a guest spot with the Resonance Big Band on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Guitar legends John Scofield (pictured) and Robben Ford performed on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Guitar legends John Scofield (pictured) and Robben Ford performed on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Guitar legends John Scofield (pictured) and Robben Ford performed on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his band filled in for an ailing Lee Konitz on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his band filled in for an ailing Lee Konitz on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his band filled in for an ailing Lee Konitz on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Cuban music supporter Jackson Browne (left) introduced Carlos Varela on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the first U.S. performance by Varela, considered by many to be the island nation's Bob Dylan. Cuban music supporter Jackson Browne (left) introduced Carlos Varela on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the first U.S. performance by Varela, considered by many to be the island nation's Bob Dylan.
Cuban music supporter Jackson Browne (left) introduced Carlos Varela on Sunday, June 12, during the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the first U.S. performance by Varela, considered by many to be the island nation's Bob Dylan.
Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard joined ?uestlove and The Roots for a jam during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11 at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard joined ?uestlove and The Roots for a jam during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11 at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard joined ?uestlove and The Roots for a jam during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11 at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas paced the stage like he'd been uncaged during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas paced the stage like he'd been uncaged during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas paced the stage like he'd been uncaged during the band's headlining set on Saturday, June 11, at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
Ruben Studdard of "American Idol" renown joined Fourplay as a guest vocalist at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11. Ruben Studdard of "American Idol" renown joined Fourplay as a guest vocalist at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11.
Ruben Studdard of "American Idol" renown joined Fourplay as a guest vocalist at the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, June 11.
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including supergroup Fourplay featuring Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb (pictured). The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including supergroup Fourplay featuring Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb (pictured).
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including supergroup Fourplay featuring Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb (pictured).
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves, backed by a quartet including bassist Reggie Veal. The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves, backed by a quartet including bassist Reggie Veal.
The 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival presented a diverse lineup of artists at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, including Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves, backed by a quartet including bassist Reggie Veal.
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How many couples could invite around 35,000 close, personal friends to a co-ed bachelor party at the Hollywood Bowl a week before their wedding?

That was the scene the weekend of June 11-12 as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, 85, accompanied on Saturday by fiancé Crystal Harris, 25, hosted the 33rd annual Playboy Jazz Festival, as much a June tradition in Hollywood as weddings everywhere else.

By Sunday, though, the wedding they'd planned for the following weekend at the Playboy Mansion was off.

Meanwhile, the party went on with the couple on Saturday, then without either on Sunday.

Helping celebrate the occasion was a lineup of artists that also celebrates the diversity of jazz styles, including straight-ahead jazz, Latin, traditional, vocal, big band, blues and world music.

Among the jazz giants, festival favorites and rising stars who graced the Bowl's revolving stage were Buddy Guy with 12-year-old prodigal protege Quinn Sullivan, Dianne Reeves, The Roots with special guest Terence Blanchard, Bill Cunliffe and the Resonance Big Band, Fourplay, Harmony 3, John Scofield & Robben Ford, Eddie Palmieri, bands from two L.A.-area high schools, and lots more.

They kept about 17,500 festival-goers grooving nonstop Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

"It's always a big party, and what I try to do is bring the party on," said four-time Grammy-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves, whose Saturday set was her eighth at the festival.

Backed by Peter Martin (piano), Peter Sprague (guitar), Reginald Veal (bass) and Terreon Gully (drums), Reeves showcased songs from her latest album, "When You Know" (produced by her cousin George Duke), "and some new stuff we've been working on," she said beforehand. "I'm excited to be on (the Playboy stage) again. There's a lot of really great people performing all day long, so I'm going to be hanging out backstage and having fun."

The Roots, the Grammy-winning house band on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," performed Sunday in their festival debut, with trumpet ace Terence Blanchard, another multiple Grammy honoree, sitting in as special guest.

"I'm honored we get to do it," said Roots leader ?uestlove on the phone from New York a few days before the festival. He had been scheduled to appear at the 2006 festival with Christian McBride as part of a James Brown tribute but couldn't make it at the last minute.

"Anytime we can get out to L.A. is great -- there's so much going on," he said.

"What are we going to do with Terence? That's the million-dollar question," ?uestlove laughed. "My plan was to get in and get out alive, but yeah, I welcome the opportunity to have him play with the band. We'll see what happens!"

I had to ask ?uestlove about "Late Night," and he said his favorite part of the show was coming up with off-the-wall "walkovers" -- the music played while a guest walks out from backstage to take the seat next to Fallon on the set. He gave props to longtime "Late Show with David Letterman" bandleader Paul Schaffer as the first to tailor hip musical walkovers to surprise the guests.

"I love the look of shock on their faces," ?uestlove said. "The best was for Mario Cantone, who's on ‘Sex and the City' and did the ‘Ask a Gay Dude' sketches on (Dave) ‘Chappelle's Show.' We played the theme music to a show he was on when he was in his teens, and it blew him away."

Jamming on "Late Night" with musical guests like Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen (and "Neil Young") are also unforgettable high points. "To play with Sir Paul and sing the full harmony on ‘She Loves You' was incredible," ?uestlove said.

Blanchard returned Sunday to perform a complete set leading his own quintet, filling in for the ailing Lee Konitz and his group.

Comic, actor, educator and die-hard jazz fan Bill Cosby returned as the festival emcee for the 30th time in 33 years. Dr. Cosby also fronted his annual festival pickup group, Cos of Good Music, this year featuring Geri Allen, George Bohanon, Dwayne Burno, Ndugu Chancler, Anat Cohen and Babatunde Lea.

"I have no idea what we'll be performing," Cosby told me in February, grinning mischievously.

Grammy-winning Bill Cunliffe, also an associate professor of music at Cal State Fullerton, has led his own band in performance at the Hollywood Bowl, but Sunday he fronted the Resonance Big Band with special guest pianist Marian Petrescu and guitarist Andreas Oberg in a tribute to jazz piano legend Oscar Peterson.

"Marian doesn't entirely fill Oscar's shoes, because no one ever could, but he comes closer than anybody," Cunliffe said before the show. "He's got all the technique and the sound. The exciting thing about Marian is he's starting to become his own guy, too. You know that's a real problem for pianists who emulate a giant like Oscar Peterson. Very often, it's tough for them to get their own voice out there. But Marian can do it. He's got that incredible musicality. There's nobody like this guy."

Cunliffe led the band on classics from "The Resonance Big Band Pays Tribute to Oscar Peterson," the band's acclaimed album saluting Peterson's influential 60-year career. Featured was the "West Side Story Medley," which earned Cunliffe the "Best Instrumental Arrangement" Grammy in 2010.

Cunliffe laughed when asked about the medley of Leonard Bernstein pieces. "I'll probably be playing that for the rest of my life -- it's a good thing I like it."

This year also marked the 30th festival the largest single group of ticket-buyers has attended.

Vincent Leinen and a few friends went to the third festival in 1982, and decided to make it an annual affair.

"Seven of us went to the Bowl in 1982, all friends who had relocated to the San Fernando Valley from all over the United States," said Leinen, from Iowa and now an SFV resident. "We were hooked."

Leinen recalled sax player Grover Washington Jr. was the headliner. "His performance instilled in me not only a love for jazz, but also a desire to bring more friends to be enlightened by this jazz experience," he said.

"And over the years, the group has grown to 250. That's the most tickets the Bowl will allow to a single group," Lienen said. "Our friends come from all over -- Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Alaska -- and range in age from 18 to 65. They represent every race, creed and color, all walks of life and social strata. Since 1982 we've spent probably $200,000 on tickets, travel, lodging, food and all that."

Each year, the press-friendly Hefner talks with reporters backstage. "As good as my life has been, this is the best time, because I am in a very good place on a personal level," he said in June 2010. "I look back at a life well-lived and feel as if I've made some difference. It just doesn't get better than this."

Hefner talked Saturday about the festival and its history, the classic "Playboy After Dark" series of the late '60s-early '70s, and NBC's new "Playboy Club" TV series set in the early 1960s.

"It's the Chinese ‘Year of the Rabbit,' so all good things are happening right now," he said.

At the end of the interview, a reporter asked Hefner where he and Harris planned to honeymoon. "At the Playboy Mansion," Hefner said, grinning. "It's the most romantic place on Earth."

He apparently had no clue Harris was going to call it off within hours.

Well, at least the co-ed bachelor bash at the Bowl was a celebration to remember.

A veteran music journalist, Peeples is also a Grammy-nominated record producer, an award-winning radio producer ("The Lost Lennon Tapes," Westwood One, 1988-1990) and former editor of the award-winning Signal website. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily anyone else's, including The Signal's.

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