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:

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.