Jazz in the Gardens 2011 This Weekend: With Lauryn Hill, El Debarge, and Bobby Brown, is the Theme Comebacks? | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Jazz in the Gardens 2011 This Weekend: With Lauryn Hill, El Debarge, and Bobby Brown, is the Theme Comebacks?

The annual Jazz in the Gardens festival returns to Sun Life Stadium this weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. As in the recent past, the lineup promises yes, jazz, of course -- but also some of the leading artists in R&B, soul, and other assorted grown-and-sexy urban music. 

The big name this year, of course, is Lauryn Hill, and that's who's getting all the breathless hype in talk about the event. But let's face it. Hill, as brilliant an artist as she once was (and could be again), has gone off the rails. While most of her fans wish her well and wish for her to get a grip, another element has now come into play with each of her live engagements. 

After a series of erratic performances -- most notably this infamous Brooklyn one in 2007 -- a big portion of a Hill show is, sadly, just waiting to see what shenanigans go down. 

To be fair, her most recent South Florida performance, at a University of Miami event this past November, went down mostly without a hitch (albeit about an hour and 15 minutes after opener Donnis finished his set). So, all could go fine at her Jazz in the Gardens gig, scheduled for this Saturday. 

In fact, comebacks, or a possible comeback, seems to be a theme of this year's lineup. One of the most anticipated performers on Sunday night is El DeBarge, he of the silky falsetto on classics like "All This Love."  

However, after the disintegration of his family band DeBarge, of which he was the undisputed star, his solo career and personal life foundered. There was drug addiction, and even jail time, until, like magic, he appeared on last year's BET Awards broadcast, healthy and singing as sweetly as ever. His recent performances support a disc titled, appropriately, Second Chance, which features cameos from the likes of Fabolous and 50 Cent and scored Grammy nominations for the title single. 

Finally, a relatively late addition to the bill is the infamous Bobby Brown, who will share the stage with former New Edition bandmates Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant. (Note: This is in no way being billed as a New Edition reunion or show -- even the words "New Edition" seem carefully avoided on the official concert poster -- but a little harmonizing for old time's sake seems inevitable, doesn't it?)

Since he stopped partying with Superhead, tried to lose weight despite drinking copious amounts of nightly booze, and even flirted with country, Brown seems to have gotten his head screwed on a little straighter. Last year he proposed to a longtime (and likely long-suffering) girlfriend onstage, re-signed to Geffen/Interscope, and is due to release a comeback album of his own, The Masterpiece, some time this year. 

If all three -- Hill, DeBarge, and Brown -- can deliver top performances, it'll be history-making for both the artists and the festival itself. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.

Jazz in the Gardens. 4 p.m. Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20. Sun Life Stadium, 2269 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami Gardens. Tickets cost $45 - $125. jazzinthegardens.com

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo

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