Michael Paulo
Michael Paulo

One of the most versatile and cosmopolitan saxophonist in pop, soul and contemporary jazz for over 35 years, Michael Paulo is bringing jazz to Los Angeles with the first annual Asian Heritage Jazz Festival, presented by Apaulo Music Productions and featuring some of the most renowned Asian jazz artists in America, who have made inroads on a national and global scale.

The event, also featuring wine tasting and food vendors, will take place Saturday, June 20, from 2 to 9 p.m. at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

“With my lifelong passion for jazz, I want to host an event unlike any other that focuses on the Asian culture embracing an American art form, jazz,” Paulo said. “As America is a melting pot of cultures, it is important in the assimilation of those cultures to embrace things that are uniquely American. It is through this that we can become a part of the mainstream culture.

“Also, in most instances Asian Americans aren’t readily associated with jazz. The festival aims to change that perception by featuring as many of the best Asian jazz performers here that we can assemble. We will have the biggest lineup of Asian jazz artists ever in the U.S.”

In addition to saxman Paulo, featured artists include saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, koto master June Kuramoto, vocalist Pauline Wilson, keyboardist Ming Freeman, Korean saxman Danny Jung, piano legend Rene Paulo (Michael’s dad), bassist Benny Rietveld, vocalist Kemeya Seward, saxophonist Ner de Leon, bassist David Inamine, guitarists Fred Schreuders and Yu Ooka, arranger/composer Derek Nakamoto, pianist Boy Katindig, and saxophonist Justin Klunk.

Rob Fukuzaki, the weekday sports anchor for ABC 7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles and host of the post-game show “Sports Zone,” will serve as the festival emcee. Also scheduled to appear is actress Tamlyn Tomita.

This festival will showcase the achievements of these artists, as well as recognize an impressive roster of Asian American musicians who have contributed their talents to this original American art form.

June Kuramoto of Hiroshima.
June Kuramoto of Hiroshima.

Paulo continues: “We can also generate opportunities for young up-and-coming talent to gain exposure, play and be inspired by the veteran performers who have had international success. This is what makes us different than the many other jazz festival events in Southern California. I am committed to its success and very excited to launch this event.”

The festival provides a platform to promote and nurture younger artists who deserve wider recognition, but are unable to break into the mainstream world of major jazz festivals.

Paulo has added his distinct “saxpertise” to a virtual who’s who of pop, soul and contemporary jazz artists, including Al Jarreau (Paulo’s longest-term touring association), James Ingram, Rick Braun (No. 1 smooth jazz trumpeter) , guitarist Peter White, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Carl Anderson, Bobby Caldwell, Johnny Mathis, Deniece Williams, Oleta Adams, Paul Jackson Jr., Christopher Cross, Ray Parker Jr., Eric Benet, and more.

Recording artist and composer Danny Jung.
Recording artist and composer Danny Jung.

In 1983, Paulo caught his big break when Jarreau hired him for his touring band. The young saxman became an integral part of the Jarreau experience while touring the world for the next decade. Paulo also gained international recognition as a result of his work on Jarreau’s famed “Live in London” release.

Internationally, he has performed in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. With nine solo releases to his credit and numerous studio sessions, Paulo has been a mainstay in the jazz world. In 2003 and 2004, he expanded his horizons by performing with the Honolulu and Asian American symphonies. He is currently completing a new recording project featuring his compositions and an all-star cast of top jazz artists and musicians.

As the founding producer for the Temecula Wine and Music Festival for the past ten years, Paulo is no stranger to the international festival scene. He spent 15 years as the musical director and host of the Dolphin Days Music Festival in Hawaii, and has recently been active as a musical coordinator and artist-in-residence for the Java Jazz Festival, one of the largest international music festivals in the world.

Currently Michael produces popular Smooth Jazz Concerts in Hawaii and “Grooves at the Westin” jazz series in Palm Springs. With over 20 concerts to date, and more scheduled this year, Michael has been instrumental in the resurgence and popularity of jazz and instrumental music in Hawaii.

The beneficiary of the festival is the Heads up Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged and at-risk youth in the Southern California area. The foundation assists existing sports and youth organizations that promote positive development in children and teens through recreational, educational and mentoring programs. It was founded in 1997 by ABC 7’s Fukuzaki.

Doors open at 2 p.m. A VIP reception hosted by Cherrystones Restaurant will be held at 2:30 p.m. Performances begin at 3 p.m.

General admission (open seating) is $40. Gold seats (reserved seating with padded chairs) are $55. VIP tickets, which include a meet-and-greet luncheon, are $125. Corporate, community and media sponsorships are available.

For tickets, go to www.tix.com and do a search for “Asian Heritage Jazz Festival.”

Group sales for organizations are available with a 10 percent discount. For more information, contact Wendy Fujihara Anderson of Wow! Productions at (626) 683-8243 or wowproductions2@earthlink.net.

For more information, go to www.asianheritagejazzfestival.com.

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