Lauryn Hill, Charlie Wilson, and Bobby Brown at Jazz in the Gardens, March 19

LaurynHillJazzInTheGardens2011.jpg
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Ms. Lauryn Hill got loved and hated last night.
See the full 22-photo Jazz in the Gardens slideshow.

Jazz in the Gardens
With Ms. Lauryn Hill, Charlie Wilson, Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Al Jarreau, Layla Hathaway, and Others
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens
Saturday, March 19, 2011


Better Than: Hanging out with Kenny G in the bushes off Florida's Turnpike.

Isn't Jazz in the Gardens a bit of a misnomer? Ms. Lauryn Hill, Uncle Charlie Wilson, and the diabolical Bobby Brown aren't exactly practitioners of that great American art form known as "jazz." And despite its patches of dying brown grass, there's no way Sun Life Stadium's parking lot can be honestly called a "garden."

Of course, I know ... Some of this festival's other performers are lightly tinged by a poppy kind of jazziness, especially grown types like fiery Layla Hathaway and scat-prone Al Jarreau. And indeed, the grounds are located squarely within the borders of Miami Gardens.

But perhaps we should petition Mayor Shirley Gibson for a newer, less stuffy name? We could call the fest something like "The Mature and Sexy Soul Patrol Springtime Revue."

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Some of those consenting adults in line for conch salad in a hollowed-out pineapple.

Yeah, it's probably a stupid idea. And really, it doesn't even matter 'cause this parking-lot party's already pretty fun, even with its current clean and classy moniker. There's deep-fried food, plenty of booze, handsome men, beautiful ladies, and two entire days of funky old-school party music. What else do you need, brothers and sisters?

Early Saturday, though, Hathaway's torch songs and Jarreau's skillful musical goofery weren't actually festival-goers main focus. Peeps were hungry and the music was just background sound for cranberry cocktails, conch salad in hollowed-out pineapples, and monster platefuls of crispy crab, shrimp, and white fish -- not to mention plenty of casual post-meal conversation between consenting adults.

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Scattin' with rubber-faced singer Al Jarreau.

As for those few foks who weren't macking on some eats or a hot date, they were already protecting their seats near the stage in anticipation of B. Brown, Uncle Charlie, and Ms. Hill. Sitting back, they watched rubber-faced 71-year-old Grammy-winning singer Al Jarreau play an hour-long daytime set. He made funny faces. He hit inhumanly high notes. He practiced some proto-beatboxing scat stuff. And he did a chicken dance, joking, "Mick Jagger ain't got nothin' on me," before tossing out the parting words, "I gotta go to the bathroom, y'all."

Soon, the sun went down. The crowd flooded toward the stage. And it started to feel like a real damn party. People were fed. There were a little drunk. And they were starting to dance in the aisles. I guess nighttime just makes people crazy.

At exactly 7:31 p.m., one-third of New Edition -- Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant -- bounced out in matching steel gray satin suits and black hats with bowties already undone. It was a not too subtle yet suave I-just-has-some-quickie-sex-in-my-VIP-trailer look.

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
The bad boy of New Jack Swing, Mr. Bobby Brown.

The trio, calling itself Heads of State, crooned 55 minutes of mostly solo cuts like Tresvant's "Stone Cold Gentleman," Brown's "Every Little Step," and Gill's "There U Go." And as always, Bad Bobby was performing one of his favorite stage tricks, fiendishly flicking his tongue as if he were kissing a set of sweet lady parts.

But then, halfway through "Roni," Brown got even nastier. He paused to address the females in the audience: "Are there any Ronis out there tonight? Single? Or that your man's getting on your goddamn nerves? One or the other, you choose. I'll be here! I'll wait!" He got down on his knees. "You know, sometimes when I ain't got the words to tell my lady how I'm feelin' at the time, this is the shit I do. I ask my guitar player to come over, stand outside the window, and just take it there. Take it all the way there while I do this shit!" And then he dry-humped the stage like a dog that just ate a week's worth of Viagra. That's romance.

Later, though, Johnny Gill took a smoother approach to scoring some love, bringing out a giant bouquet of red roses and throwing a few single stems into the audience before slow-jamming his way into "My, My, My" and hopping off the stage to serenade, hug, and get toweled down by swooning 35-year-old fans.



You could smell the sexy in the air. And by the time Gap Band singer and all-out funk king Uncle Charlie Wilson showed up at 9:04 p.m., the hot and heavy love session was swinging hard.

His epically long-lasting 17-song set was undoubtedly the fan fave of the evening. Kicking off with the Gap Band's "Party Train" and running through R&B baby-makers like "Let's Chill," "Whatcha Wanna Do," and "I Wanna Be Your Man," this 58-year-old OG playa was working miracles, seducing every single female member of the crowd, grandmammas and teen girls alike.

It wasn't all sexiness and seduction, though. Uncle Charlie took a timeout for worship, singing and preaching: "I went from rags to riches! Riches to rags! Rags to the curb! And curb to homeless! I was an alcoholic! And a crack-cocaine addict! Oh my God! Now I'm back to number one! 'Cause I found someone greater than myself who picked me up! Turned me around! Placed my feet over solid ground! I'm 17 years clean and sober! I was diagnosed with prostate cancer! Now I'm cancer-free! Somebody say, 'Yeah'! Somebody say, 'Yeah'! I promised him, every time I got on the stage, I was gonna give him some praise! So if you've ever done anything, get on your feet and let's give him some praise right now! On the count of three, I want you to scream for everybody all night! We wanna shake the screws loose on Sun Life Stadium over there! One! Two! Three!"

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Uncle Charlie Wilson turning out one of those smooth baby-makers.

And holy shit, those people praised! The crowd noise didn't even die down till Ms. Lauryn Hill's set got seriously delayed by technical difficulties.

Originally scheduled to start at 10:35 p.m., Hill's show was running late because the stage techs couldn't seem to get the mic setup right. And so, the event staff decided to stall for time by running an endless stream of Jazz in the Gardens public service announcements starring each and every Miami Gardens councilor. Watching the crowd, I could already see tiny pockets of people heading for the exit.

Thankfully, it was all eventually solved. And by 11:46 p.m., Hill got her formal introduction and strode out in a crazily layered ensemble: a flat-brimmed Yankees cap, red leather jacket, several shirts, a puffy skirt, and a few other expensive layers. One particularly astute shit-talker in the crowd described Ms. Hill's style as "millionaire bag lady."



This kind of weirdo stage getup (like her chronic tardiness, gaudy lipstick, and erratic performances) has become a hallmark of the comeback shows that Hill's been doing for the last year. And no doubt, it's all very shocking, especially compared with her former neo-soul superqueen persona. But if you can finally get past the fact that she's no longer the Lauryn Hill of 13 years ago, this whole new millionaire bag lady thing is actually kind of awesome, just like the radically rewired versions of her hits.

That said, though, Ms. Hill's Jazz in the Gardens show last night was nowhere near as frenetic and fascinating as her performance back in November for the University of Miami homecoming. The setlists ended up being basically the same for both shows, heavily dosed with Miseducation tracks and classic Fugees cuts: "Everything Is Everything," "Superstar," "How Many Mics", etc. But last night's space-y rap rock revamps didn't exactly match up. Her band wasn't as propulsive, dense, and strangely compelling. And even though her voice seems stronger now than four months ago, Hill was mostly out-of-sync too.

Throughout the set, seats were being vacated. And I wondered: Are people trying to beat traffic? Are they tired 'cause it's past their bedtime? Or are they seriously that sick of marginally unrecognizable versions of their favorite songs?

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Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez
Ms. Lauryn Hill pulling off that millionaire bag lady look.

Unfortunately, most of those escapees missed a couple of the night's major highlights. First, there was a surprisingly straight-forward cover of Bob Marley's "Is This Love" during which Hill actually unleashed her voice a bit, letting it ride out entire lines without veering off into strange improvisational sections. And last, there was Hill's finisher, "Doo Wop," a simple and familiar, yet still entirely new take that got tens of thousands throwing hands.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: A massive mature and sexy (i.e. mostly 30 and over) congregation in headwraps, Kangol hats, monochromatic outfits, paisley summer dresses, and Obama swag. By Miami Gardens mayor Shirley Gibson's estimation, there were "more than 50,000" people this year.

Lauryn Hill's Setlist:
-"Everything Is Everything"
-"Sweetest Thing"
-"Lost Ones"
-"When It Hurts So Bad"
-"Superstar"
-"Ex-Factor"
-"Zimbabwe" (Bob Marley cover)
-"Is This Love" (Bob Marley cover)
-"How Many Mics"
-"I Only Have Eyes for You" (Flamingos cover)
-"Zealots"
-"Fu-Gee-La"
-"Ready or Not"
-"Killing Me Softly"
-"Turn Your Lights Down Low" (Bob Marley cover)
-"Doo Wop (That Thing)"

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Location Info

Map

Sun Life Stadium

2269 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens, FL

Category: General

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13 comments
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Belinda Martinez
Belinda Martinez

Came across this blog after listening to Miami Gardens's new casinos blast music until 3:00 a.m. I live three miles from the Casino and Stadium. The Jazz Fest is a money losing fiasco. The new Las Vegas Style Casino is another Miami Gardens political bribe tribute.

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zqxz

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ddjj
ddjj

great article.

tlbw
tlbw

Belinda Martinez, Lauryn Hill wasn't even on stage for two hours. And like the person who commented earlier, you don't compliance about the Univ. of Miami football games, the bowl games, and other events that are at the stadium. Also, I was way more than 5,000 people in attendance. Since you hate this event so much, maybe you should go on a weekend vacation to avoid the loud music. I enjoyed it and thought i was awesome.

Cuinthehall
Cuinthehall

I think your article and observation of this event is so typical of how people are so ignorant, including the two comments posted especially when take time out and criticize. As for Ms. Martinez, I live near the stadium as well and you no more affected by this festival than a typical Hispanic house party...... Get a life!!!!!

Medianikk
Medianikk

Hmmm..Ms. Martinez has an issue with 2 days of amazing music by some of the best entertainers in the business. Maybe you should do yourself a favor and actually attend the event before being critical. There are a zillion other disruptive events at the stadium - a superbowl, circus, monster truck to name a few, so what do you do then? Anyone who chooses to live 2.71 miles from a stadium should be prepared for loud events or simply move. And for the record, Lauryn Hill was amazing. Love her new sound and the Bob Marley tributes.

Belinda Martinez
Belinda Martinez

By Miami Gardens mayor Shirley Gibson's estimation, there were "more than 50,000" people this year. That is a crock and proves she can't do the math. If 5,000 people attended this event, it would be a success. Can we recall Shirley Gibson for her obviously lies or maybe she is including the residents who live around the stadium and did not purchase tickets, as attendees. After all we had to endure the NOISE FEST for two days whether we liked it or not.

curious
curious

Strange how you did not complain about Calle Ocho.

Tayth
Tayth

5000, I don't think so....the event had well over 50,000

Belinda Martinez
Belinda Martinez

I hate the Jazz in the Gardens event. I live 2.71 miles from the stadium and the techno rap boom boom for two days from noon to 2:00 a.m. is horrible. Like sitting next to a car shaking with rap beat at stop light. Only I have to endure it for two days inside my home. If the folks who attend this festival are deaf, they could be supplied with special hearing aids. The music doesn't not have to blasted for miles. I listened to Lauryn Hill screech for two solid hours Saturday until 1:30 am. Do these folks really know how horrible they sound over loud speakers which blast for miles??????? This event is a money loser for the City of Miami Gardens and disruptive to its citizens. It is a poorly attended fiasco and just a vehicle for free tickets to the City of Miami Gardens Staff and Officials. A horrible event.

Jillian Wiggs
Jillian Wiggs

you disrespectful little lady! are you serious? you can't be this serious...I get it you want to have a cozy little house that's quiet....but that's why your spot is cheaper, because it's next to a stadium that generally has louder events!!!! It's a stadium

And by Wiki definition, it's A modern stadium (plural stadiums or stadia[3]) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.[4])Pausanias noted that for about half a century the only event at the ancient Greek Olympic festival was the race that comprised one length of the stade at Olympia, where the word "stadium" originated.

Respectfully, its a stadium!

Loud, crazy, fun and if you made it to Jazz in the Gardens, FABULOUS!

Just gettin Ms. Lauryn Hill on the stage is enough! really all these dates she's missed or came so late that she couldn't finish her show...that's plenty of Faboulousness in itself...this isn't something that's happened in most cities and it happened in yours!

Again, seriously you're dum without the "b," can't waste the extra letter! You should be proud it went down in your city! However, you're at home being lame complaining about the noise! lol, you're dum! yep without the "b"!

SpeakinTruth
SpeakinTruth

Lady, you have an ugly facebook picture to go with your ugly attitude

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

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