The Monterey Jazz Festival has an ongoing rich history of great performances: Louis Armstrong (1958), Miles Davis (1963), Tito Puente & His Orchestra (1977), Shirley Horn (1994) and many others. MJF's 50th anniversary celebration in 2007 continued that honored tradition of swing, resulting in Terence Blanchard's Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo with his performance on Dizzy Gillespie's classic "Be-Bop" by the MJF 50th Anniversary All-Stars. At that same festival, another group of all-starsthe quartet extraordinare featuring bassist Dave Holland, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Eric Harlandcarried the torch in utmost form, as documented in this live recording.
With new music provided by each musician and just four days of rehearsals before the Concert, the quartet's second performance (on Dizzy Den's stage) captured the magic of MJF, as Holland recalls in the liners: "There was really an electric atmosphere from the audience. There was an energy we all felt..." From the smoking gun of Harland's "Treachery," an exhausting number where each player is illuminatedin particularly Harland's explosive traps and Potter's commanding tenorto the modernistic swing of Holland's funk-groove "Step To It," the music illustrates the chemical reaction between an appreciative crowd and exceptional live jazz.
The air was rife with expectancy. Harland's statuesque ballad, "Maiden," features a superb bass solo from Holland followed by Potter's alluring warmth and a cooler contemplation from Rubalcaba's introspective and imaginative keys. A gifted pianist with an exquisite touch, Rubalcaba surprises with the boppin street vibe of "50," a dancing piece that shows not only his dexterity and chops, but the soulful blues modality of Herbie Hancock.
Holland opens his own "Veil of Tears" with another profound solo spot, morphing into a flowing tempo where Rubalcaba and Potter share a vivid comp/solo dialog. Holland's introduction of the band sets up the final curtain call, "Ask Me Why." At just over eleven minutes, it literally burned down Dizzy Den's drapes and its entire stage with a stunning show of consummate group connectivity and execution, gloriously documented. By the time the band finished, it was worthy of an ecstatic standing ovation...and still is.
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