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Kuumbwa And The Magic of Monday Night

Arthur R George By

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In 1999, Kuumbwa began to stretch its wings, presenting Diana Krall into the 2000-seat Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, followed in ensuing years by Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, and in 2008 Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra into the same hall. While the talent was prominent, the engagements were economically risky. In a city that has only 65,000 residents, it's like asking 1 in 30 to buy a ticket. Yet people appeared grateful to see major names brought into the town, and the shows sold out.

The Monterey Jazz Festival across the bay started in 1958. When its founder Jimmy Lyons retired in 1992, Tim Jackson applied to become general manager and artistic director. Then still only in his 30s, he was hired for his veteran knowledge of how to book and program, and a perception that he had the energy to propel the festival forward. He has since initiated five national tours by all-star bands from the festival, authorized books tracing the history and art of the festival, and directs restoring and digitizing the festival's audio archives at Stanford University.

Jackson continues as artistic director for Monterey after 27 years, and for Kuumbwa as well for more than 40. He is also on the board of directors for the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay, where he was once employed to sweep the floor on which he slept. As in long ago, he still plays, and performs, on flute; when he's not working Monday nights, keeping the lights on, maintaining magic at Kuumbwa.

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