All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Monterey Jazz Festival 2017

Josef Woodard By

Sign in to view read count
Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA
September 15-17, 2017

A Feast of Tributes, to Itself, Included

The distinctly stunning California outpost that is Monterey has been in the news, and making cultural history, in various ways this year. Over the summer, the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival was duly noted and feted with a special commemorative festival. Over in the realm of the tube (the New, Improved TV landscape), the dramatic Limited Series Big Little Lies—set in Monterey, though with liberal creative license in terms of veracity to the reality of the place—ushered the city and its inviting ambience into America's living room. And, last but most importantly, on the very night that series was garnering a handful-plus of Emmy Awards on Sunday night, the grand and glorious Monterey Jazz Festival was on the last day/night of its milestone 60th anniversary edition.

The historical aspect of this year's jazz weekend in Monterey was not at all lost on the inspired and long-standing artistic director Tim Jackson, possibly to a fault. This was a weekend chockablock with tribute programs to bygone or otherwise absent legends who have graced the festival's Arena stage, including the opening act of Regina Carter's nod to Ella Fitzgerald, which actually involved inventive new arrangements, as part of her new Ella-homage project, Accentuate the Positive. Carter may have slyly made a political statement in this otherwise mostly socio-political reality-avoiding weekend, pointing out the pressing message of the mantra-like lyrics in the Ella-popularized "Accentuate the Positive:" You've got to accentuate the positive/Eliminate the negative/Latch on to the affirmative/Don't mess with Mister In-Between." "We gotta' live by those words more than ever," Carter told the arena crowd, with a hint of a grin.

Later that Friday night in the arena, we heard a tribute to past Monterey regular Dizzy Gillespie (a program with the eminent and ever-hip pianist Kenny Barron at the center, with trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Sean Jones and percussionist Pedrito Martinez), to a saxophonist-featured tribute to Sonny Rollins. There, the horn spotlight went to Rollins admirers and proteges Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, and a moving "Round Midnight" by Rollins peer Jimmy Heat, on soprano, with all aboard for a round of "St. Thomas."

Saturday night featured a welcome return by the great vocalist from Benin, Angelique Kidjo, but this program was a tribute to the inspiration of salsa music, generally, and her hero thelate Celia Cruz, specifically (with percussionist Martinez again in the fold). Even Dee Dee Bridgewater's strikingly powerful new project (and persona), linked to her new album Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready, is a tribute of sorts—to the great vintage soul music she listened to, coming out of the station WDIA in her birth city of Memphis. The record, and her powerful live show (especially killing it on "Try a Little Tenderness" and an encore of "Purple Rain"), validates yet another aspect of this master vocalist's range—of style and musical aplomb. But her super-tight Memphis-based band is put in the position of being basically a stellar cover band.

Echoes of and genuflecting to the past was a trend that kept rolling onto the Monterey Fairgrounds, to the point where the present tense and new musical energies in jazz seemed sorely wanting this year. Generally, a hallmark of the artistic success of the Monterey Jazz Festival, especially during director Jackson's long and inspired guidance, has been the delicate balancing of satisfying the many contingencies of jazz fans and old school festival-goers. Avant-garde music and other musics of the "now" have been craftily woven into the programming fabric, but not so much this year. It was a time, for nostalgic reflections, upon the turn of age 60. This is arguably the world's oldest continuously-run and contiguously-placed jazz festival, although the more roving and on-off again Newport jazz festival narrowly preceded and inspired the festival that founder Jimmy Lyons built.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Catching Up With
Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Walk Against Wind

Walk Against Wind

Biophilia Records
2017

buy
Pascal’s Triangle

Pascal’s Triangle

Point of Departure, WMPG-FM
2013

buy
Sun Pictures

Sun Pictures

Greenleaf Music
2013

buy
Initial Here

Initial Here

Greenleaf Music
2012

buy
Entry

Entry

Self Produced
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read European Jazz Conference 2018 Live Reviews
European Jazz Conference 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 25, 2018
Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Broken Shadows at Icehouse" Live Reviews Broken Shadows at Icehouse
by Samuel Stroup
Published: June 21, 2018
Read "Curtis Brothers At Scullers" Live Reviews Curtis Brothers At Scullers
by Steve Provizer
Published: February 28, 2018
Read "Odean Pope Quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café" Live Reviews Odean Pope Quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 7, 2018
Read "Molde International Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Molde International Jazz Festival 2018
by Luca Vitali
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "James Mahone at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews James Mahone at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: November 26, 2017