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Long Beach Jazz Festival returns with Dean Brown, Frank Bellucci, more

Drummer Frank Bellucci will partner with Bob Lepley

Drummer Frank Bellucci will partner with Bob Lepley and Jimmy Cammack in a trio at the Long Beach Jazz Festival Sept. 17. Photo Credit: Rich Balter Photography

Long Beach is known for its sun and surf, but this week the focus switches to jazz. The Long Beach Jazz Festival, now in its 14th year, brings top-shelf musicians you might find headlining the Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village to play the Long Beach Public Library for free.

“The main focus is to bring high-level creative music to the community,” says festival chairman and Long Beach resident Steve Adelson, who is also a world-renowned Chapman stick player set to perform on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. “The genre also has a connotation of being too lofty and highbrow but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of it is danceable and has a groove.”

Guitarist Dean Brown, who plays Sunday at 4:45 p.m., will be on hand bringing his rock and blues style of jazz fusion to the fest as he performs material from his new album, “RoLaJaFuFu.”

“I’m an energetic and physical player,” says Brown, who grew up in Long Beach. “I’m excited to introduce my new music to the crowd.”

Drummer Frank Bellucci, who lives in Dix Hills, plays with a variety of acts from Adelson to a trio with pianist Bob Lepley (Saturday at noon). He thrives on the free-flowing intensity on stage.

“You have to react at the spur of the moment. There’s no room for overthinking,” says Bellucci. “It’s a cool feeling not knowing where the music is headed. It’s like we are going to the moon!”

Legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who recorded with Frank Sinatra, will perform in a trio with his son Martin and guitar partner Ed Laub on Sunday at 2 p.m.

“I learned Bucky’s style and became the other half of his brain,” says Laub. “Our music comes out very orchestral with a big sound. We complement each other.”

When asked what keeps Pizzarelli going at age 90, Laub says, “Bucky loves the guitar more than anything. He’s like a kid. When he picks up that instrument, he comes alive.”

Known for his improvisational skills, guitarist Chieli Minucci and his band Special EFX are cooking up a special set for Friday at 8:15 p.m. that will consist of familiar material, some jams and a new song, “Dance on the Delta.”

“You want to vibe with the guys on stage,” says Minucci. “Once you get that going and the crowd connects to it then the whole thing becomes this big circle of energy.”

WHAT Long Beach Jazz Festival

WHEN|WHERE 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, noon on Saturday and noon on Sunday , Long Beach Public Library auditorium, 111 W. Park Ave., Long Beach plus various locations in town (visit website)

INFO longbeachjazzfest.com

ADMISSION Free, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

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