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...

524

Monterey Notebook 2007, Part 2: Saturday

By

Sign in to view read count
A tie-dyed, rainbow-hued gang of Mardi Gras hippies marches up the center aisle. And for just an instant, Monterey Jazz 2007 merges with Monterey Pop 1967.
DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

James Hunter: Turning Back the Clock
Saturday, 1:00 p.m.—The Arena



Friday night's drizzle has held on tenaciously through the morning hours, turning the 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival into a soggy, mud-speckled event. The Arena is mostly empty as British soul man James Hunter begins the traditional Saturday blues program. But even if much of the sellout crowd is staying home so far, the preponderance of slickers and broad-brimmed hats on the fairgrounds show a determination to keep the party going.



On stage, Hunter turns back the clock with a bumping, screaming soul-blues revue, literally bouncing across the stage as he pays tribute to the genre's greats, backed by a gritty, mostly English quintet. Hunter's popping original tunes have the classic R&B flavor of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding. But not only could these songs have been lifted from an earlier era; they might well have been top-40 hits then and beloved oldies today.



There is a rasp in Hunter's voice that interferes with some of his more extreme interjections, but he is undeterred. "No Smoke Without a Fire" channels Wilson Pickett by way of James Brown, with just a touch of Boots Randolph from tenorist Damian Hand lightening the mood. At opposite ends of the stage, Jared Samuel kicks out a churchy soul break on Hammond B-3 organ while baritone saxophonist Lee Badau groans behind Hunter's stuttering lead. Rain or no rain, the festival burns on.



Honeydripper All-Stars: The Turning Point

1:40 p.m.—Garden Stage



While James Hunter winds up his Arena gig, the Honeydripper All-Stars are romping and stomping through a powerhouse set of jook-joint blues at the nearby Garden Stage. Playing in support of the upcoming John Sayles film "Honeydripper" (for which these musicians provided the soundtrack), the band unleashes a barrage of searing vocals and show-stopping instrumental breaks. Tenor saxophonist Eddie Shaw emcees the set with humor and verve as a mix of veteran and younger blues players digs deep and brings up gold.



Harmonica player Arthur Williams blasts away and eggs on the honking Shaw, then gives way to a smashing barrelhouse piano solo from Henderson Huggins. This is one of those bands where almost everyone sings, and guitarist Gary Clark Jr. proves a double threat with burning licks and a sledgehammer voice.



Later, as Mable John takes things down a notch with some bawdy vocal features, a minor miracle occurs. The rain stops, patches of blue appear in the sky, and just as Ms. John sings, "I don't know how she done it," a sunbeam begins to peek through the clouds, marking a turning point for this wet weekend.



Otis Taylor: Blue Trance

2:20 p.m.—The Arena



Back in the suddenly sunny (and crowded) Arena, Otis Taylor has come ready for business. His band consists entirely of guitars, including electric bass and lap steel. "You know what, y'all? We don't have no drums!" he shouts. "Clap your hands and be our drums!" But no external aid is necessary as the band stirs up a swirling blues-rock cyclone.



Taylor calls his music trance blues, and the name is apt. Standing close together in the center of the stage, Taylor and his daughter Cassie craft chugging guitar/bass lines while John Richardson and Chuck Campbell wash over them with thick, atmospheric waves. The sound surges into a psychedelic stew, cresting and falling back in tune after tune.



Taking the lead in a heartfelt tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Cassie Taylor turns in a sweet- toned, breathy vocal somewhere between a whisper and a moan. Then things turn upbeat as Otis switches to harmonica, getting the Arena audience worked up in a joyous call and response on an old "hambone" lyric. Not content with the level of participation, the elder Taylor climbs down from the stage to personally lead his chorus from the aisles.



As the band returns to trance blues, there is a surreal moment. With the music once again reaching a hallucinatory high point, a tie-dyed, rainbow-hued gang of Mardi Gras hippies marches up the center aisle. And for just an instant, Monterey Jazz 2007 merges with Monterey Pop 1967.



Mimi Fox: The Art of Conversation

3:30 p.m.— Coffee House Gallery



A healthy crowd has assembled in the Coffee House Gallery for guitarist Mimi Fox's second trio set, which opens with a streetwise take on Wes Montgomery's normally breezy "West Coast Blues." Seated and scatting quietly along with her multifaceted solo, the constantly moving Fox looks to be as much the recipient as the originator of her melodic inventions. Is she playing the guitar or is something else playing her?



"Caravan" emerges from a complex mass of parallel riffs, interspersed with brief classically-inspired musings. Drummer Akira Tana balances a floating ride with a rumbling groove for Fox's fleet, jerking solo, while bassist Harvie S speedwalks in the background. S takes surprising liberties with rhythm and tempo in his own solo, mixing speedy linearity with lopsided diversions.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club Live Reviews
Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club
by Gareth Thomas
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat Metheny Commission Highlights Uppsala International Guitar Festival" Live Reviews Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat...
by John Ephland
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017" Live Reviews Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017
by John Kelman
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Rene Marie at Dazzle" Live Reviews Rene Marie at Dazzle
by Geoff Anderson
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017" Live Reviews Redwood City Salsa Festival 2017
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 17, 2017