Monterey Notebook 2006, Part 3: Sunday
The ballads are striking. "When Summer Comes" endures two false starts as Peterson balks at microphone feedback and the noise of a passing airplane. But once the interruptions end, Peterson crafts a hushed, delicate jewel. Guitarist Ulf Wakenius' solo is gently lyrical over a restless undercurrent, and bassist Dave Young moves to his instrument's upper register for a tender statement. "Requiem," dedicated to jazz figures who have passed away, goes even deeper. Peterson is placid and deep in this melancholy piece, Wakenius quiet and thoughful, Young lyrical and dreamy. It is perhaps the most heartfelt and most moving moment of the Festival.
Unfortunately, the numbers taken at a faster tempo have less to offer. "Wheatland" and "Backyard Blues" have relaxed swings; the tunes are pleasant enough but the performances lack verve. With the cold weather clearly affecting his hands, Peterson manages to put together stylish single-note runs, but his chords and timing lack precision. Still, he remains determined.
The crowd is smaller by the end of the set, but Peterson gets a standing ovation. It has been a great day, concluded by one of the giants of jazz on one of its most esteemed stages. There is more: in the Night Club, Dr. Lonnie Smith is still performing feats of wizardry on the Hammond B-3 for a hip, young crowd, and the Ben Monder Trio still has one full set to go in the Coffee House. But as the final strains of jazz float into the starry sky, most people are looking ahead: to 2007 and the next Monterey Jazz Festival, coming up on 50 years old and still in its prime.
Janna L. Gadden