PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Monterey Jazz Festival: 19 September 2014 (Photos)

The 57th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival shone bright as a beacon for a long-standing organization with a mission for musical outreach and jazz education.

Monterey Jazz Festival

City: Monterey, CA
Venue: Monterey Fairgrounds
Date: 2014-09-19

Heading to Monterey, California for other reasons, I thought I'd catch some music while I was there and lo-and-behold, a golden opportunity awaited me. The 57th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival was happening during my visit so (just like I had done when I was in Snowmass, Colorado) I decided to partake in this esteemed local activity. And how could I not given? With a stellar lineup that included Jason Moran, The Philadelphia Experiment in an ultra rare set, Charles Lloyd across many projects, Booker T. Jones, The Roots and more, just on the days I didn't attend, Monterey offered a veritable feast for the ears.

On the evening of Friday September 19th, I arrived at the Monterey Fairgrounds expecting to come upon a massive venue given that there were eight stages for performances listed. However I was pleased to find the grounds rather cozy, with vendors, including an Amoeba music tent, and merchandise hawkers within the immediate vicinity and set along the long pathway that ran from either end of the rectangular space that was quick to traverse. One end had music spots dubbed Dizzy's Den and the Night Club while the other end was primarily for the Jimmy Lyons Arena where the headliners performed.

There were volunteers walking the grounds sharing information about the mission of the Monterey Jazz Fest, which encompasses more than the singular September weekend event. The MJF has long been involved in promoting jazz education among youths, and developing the community in schools. MJF has a group of "Traveling Clinicans" who travel to schools to provide free instruction to students. These impressive efforts are the real core of the MJF, with the festival serving as a beacon to the rest of the world (the festival is often rated one of the best jazz fests).

For the 57th incarnation, the festival honored the legendary 76 year old saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who performed multiple shows with several groups over the weekend. On Friday night, I arrived in time to catch the tail of his set in Sangam, with Zakir Hussain on tabla and Eric Harland on drums in Dizzy's. Though the air outside was cool, inside it felt steamy and stuffy as a result of all the people packed in to catch him for the first of many shows. I could sense the rapturous state many of the folks were in, as the music "summoned a ritual environment, solemn and contemplative, then raucous and ecstatic." (according to the Mercury News).

Though Dizzy's was nearly filled, there was still room for people on the edges. Not so across the way at the Night Club where (upright) bassist Christian McBride performed with pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. The line for the group was out the door and well over 100 people deep. I snuck my way in for a bit of their set after catching some of Robert Glasper's set with Jason Moran, and to see the spacious and inviting arena stage for the first time (with an astroturf lawn for the first time).

Then I found myself back at Dizzy's to catch Red Baraat, the funky dhol-n-brass band from Brooklyn, making their Jazz Fest debut. But unfortunately, with the seats still in the venue, it was a bit difficult for the thin crowd to stay in motion despite band-leader Sunny Jain's encouragement but those in the front were happy to dance especially with strong party tunes like "Shruggy Ji".

I made my way over to the arena to see the headliner, pianist Herbie Hancock, who continues to tour with the same band I saw him with last year at The Capitol Theatre, which includes guitarist Lionel Loueke, where he began his thrilling funky "greatest hits" set. Hancock addressed the audience at several points but mostly he tried to keep the chat short to pack in as much music as possible. "Watermelon Man" was particularly blistering and probably my favorite but "Rockit" was just as impressive and exciting to hear. It wasn't the full MJF experience, but the taster I got was enough to recognize that this festival is both a cultural treasure and a place to get your groove on.

Please visit Facebook to see a larger gallery of images!


Jason Moran and Robert Glasper:

Cecile McLorin Salvant (signing autographs):

Christian McBride Trio:

Red Baraat:

Herbie Hancock:

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.