The 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival lineup includes some old friends, some new blood and plenty of musical surprises. So what else is new? The longest continuously running jazz festival on Planet Earth certainly didn’t get that way by being stodgy, boring or predictable. This year, Artistic Director Tim Jackson has put together a stellar three-day program, running September 19-21, that touches base at just about every corner of American music.
Familiar names include Herbie Hancock, a genre-jumping ar tist whose work spans more than a half century and encompasses collaborations with Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Chick Corea and Jaco Pastorius and many others. Hancock performs Friday at 10:20pm.
Following a rousing showing in Dizzy’s Den in 2011, Robert Glasper Experiment (with guest pianist Jason Moran) is set to light up the main stage just before Hancock at 8:50pm with its unique and soulful amalgam of jazz, hip-hop and R&B.
FRESH FACE, SUBLIME SINGING
A newcomer is Cecile McLorin Salvant, an exciting new talent who has already caused quite a stir for a woman of 25. She was named Up and Coming Artist of the Year in the 2014 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards and was nominated for a Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for “WomanChild.” The New York Times’ Ben Ratliff recently wrote of her: “Her voice clamps into each song, performing careful variations on pitch, stretching words but generally not scatting; her face conveys meaning, representing sorrow or serenity like a silent-movie actor.” Her two Friday performances—on the Jimmy Lyons Stage at 7:30pm, followed by an appearance at the Night Club at 10:30pm—are not to be missed.
The list describing Michael Feinstein goes on and on: master musician; crooner; historian; nightclub owner; author and musical anthropologist. As “The Ambasssador of the Great American Songbook,” he’s dedicated his life to preserving these timeless 20th century works for coming generations. To that end, he founded the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, putting a spotlight on the music—by such luminaries as Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, the Gershwins, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, to name just a few—through educational programs nationwide. He also works with the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, a group dedicated to the survival, preservation and dissemination of the vast oeuvre of American recorded music.
His legendary New York City nightclub, Feinstein’s at Lowes Regency, presented a stunning array of jazz and pop performers until it closed for renovations in 2015. Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco continues the tradition and plans are afoot for a new venue in London.
But aside from all that, Michael Feinstein is a compelling, powerful performer. On Sunday evening, he’ll present The Sinatra Project on the Jimmy Lyons Stage with Russell Malone, Harry Allen and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. In addition, he will participate in a discussion about his passion for the Great American Songbook Saturday at 2:30pm in Dizzy’s Den.
BIG SUR BOHEMIAN
Tenor saxophonist and flautist Charles Lloyd’s three appearances (Dizzy’s Den Friday at 7:30pm and Saturday at 9pm; Jimmy Lyons Stage Sunday at 7pm with Jason Moran, Rueben Rogers and Eric Harland) mark a homecoming of sorts. Lloyd was a hot commodity in the jazz world in the late 1960s and one of the few to have “crossed over” to a broader general audience.
His quartet, a dream ensemble comprised of Keith Jarrett on piano, bassist Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette on drums, recorded their seminal “Forest Flower” album live at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and was the first jazz group to headline at the famous Fillmore in San Francisco. Fame was in the air, but Lloyd turned his back on it, vanishing from the jazz world into Big Sur where he concentrated on his spiritual side. He did play music though, recording and touring with the Beach Boys throughout the ’70s.
Carlos Santana called Lloyd “an international treasure,” and today, at 76, the reedman maintains a touring schedule that would tax a man half his age. This will be his first appearance at the Festival since 2006 and is among the most anticipated events of the year.
Other standouts include Booker T. Jones, whose “Green Onions” on Stax Records is among the most instantly recognizable tunes of American music; bassist extraordinaire Marcus Miller ; The Roots, the house band for NBC TV’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon;” and 2014 Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark, Jr.
Staging a three-day festival that features 500 artists on eight stages is a daunting task, but the organizers of the Monterey Jazz Festival have pulled it off with flying colors for 56 years now.The 57th promises to be another huge artistic and cultural achievement, a feather in the cap of the Monterey Peninsula’s musical heritage.
The full schedule of performances, tickets and more information are available online at www.montereyjazzfestival.org.
Gourmet Cuisine Joins World-Class Jazz
Attendees of the 57th Monterey Jazz Festival will find the gastronomic bar kicked up a few notches now that the festival has teamed with local superstar Chef Dory Ford and his catering company, Aqua Terra Culinary.
“Bringing Dory on board is part of our ongoing process to make the weekend a very comfortable and pleasing experience for our guests,” says Festival Managing Director Chris Doss. “We want to be the best festival in the country.”
In addition to catering the VIP areas, Aqua Terra will be running all the beverage bars on the grounds and is inaugurating a food concession area in the Pattee Arena itself.
“We’ll be giving the VIP experience to the general public,” Ford says. And he’s got Big Easy on his mind. “We’re planning to bring a little piece of Bourbon Street to the proceedings: Hurricanes, Muffuletta salad, Boudain balls, things you might see at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.”
Doss says these changes enhance the festival. “You’ve got top-of-the-line entertainment and amenities and now great food as well.”
Ford agrees. “We’re really excited about this,” he enthuses. “We can’t wait to be there and serve the Jazz Festival guests. Plus, we get to listen to some great music!”