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Monterey Jazz Festival 2013

Larry Taylor By

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Shorter's 80th Birthday tribute was given on Lyon's Stage The accolades could have also been given to his group of premiere musicians who have been together for 13 years—pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade. Their creative cohesiveness is palpable, and the trio was often huddled together in center stage with Shorter off to the side. The rhythm section would churn the creative mix with Shorter coming in for short on-target bursts with his soprano sax.

Diana Krall proved why she is the best and getting mellower with age like a Billie Holiday blues. Her session was nothing but eclectic, much of it an homage to singers going back to the forties. She put her imprimatur on such tunes as Fats Waller's spirited lament, "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" and Irving Berlin's graceful "Let's Face the Music and Dance."

She looked back on sad rain songs—the teary "Just Like A Butterfly" and the cheery "Let It Rain," along with Green Day's sad-wistful "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." A funny segment when she said she felt "peckish" and hilariously went to Nat Cole's "The Frim Fram Sauce." Bing Crosby, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits also had their day, all of it delivered by Krall with impeccable skill and understanding of every genre.

Coffee House Gallery-All Three days

Uri Caineon piano built all-encompassing walls of sound, with his group John Herbert on bass and Charles Penn on drums, doing the framework and masonry. Picassoesque in his use of dissonance and atonality, Caine gave what fans on hand were there to appreciate. He is a Philadelphian working in the New York and east coast scene and it was great to finally see him out here on the west coast.

Orrin Evans on piano lived up to the praise for his release, ..."It Was Beauty" (Criss Cross Jazz, 2013). Evans' trio operates as one and includes bassist Eric Revis and drummer Donald Edwards. With the dignity called for, they stately played Revis' oft-recorded "Black Elk Speaks." Evans' group reminds of Bill Evans' with its impeccable interplay—no note seemingly un-responded to. His style, though, is more assertive as crescendos build to explosions. His sly wit was apparent when he said he was going to play an old popular standard. And, in so many words, he challenged us to try to name it. Midway the title jumped out—"Autumn Leaves."

The Berklee College Global Jazz Ambassadors was not on my must-see list, but as Fats Waller might say, "One never knows, do one." On Saturday, my broken tailbone was aching from sitting on the hard metal Arena chairs. To revive my back, I decided to go to the Gallery where there were two overstuffed sofas near the spectator entrance. Soon, while thus sitting, I heard music wafting out the entrance. Excellent jazz was being played by a small group as people filed into seats. This stream of spectators was constant and the room was soon full, even overflowing. A long line was out the door. The attraction was the Berklee College unit. I peeked in and was gratified to see this sextet doing "on-the-cusp" arrangements. I left to a wonderful version of Thelonious Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie." Serendipity for sure.

One of the things festival goers surely look forward to is the variety of foods available. There is never any need to leave the grounds. It's all there and delicious from Ghanian chicken and salmon, to Western barbecue, to Indian fare and fried artichokes, peach and berry cobblers. Along the "shopping mall," the Macy's booth featured cosmetic makeovers, and other stalls sold jewelry, ceramics, scarves, skirts and even shutters. One can shop to a beat here.

Photo credit
Gail Taylor

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