60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Wraps up Weekend of Historic Performances
The 60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday, September 17 after a weekend of debut artists, returning masters and new favorites. Over 38,562 fans came through the gates of the Monterey County Fairgrounds during the weekend of September 15-17, which featured a record-breaking 137 performances and events of diverse styles of music from around the globe, from tributes and piano trios; big bands to modern jazz, salsa, tango, blues and bluegrass, modern classical, and high energy fusion groups, mixed with historic conversations, films, and exhibits.
Musical Highlights: Friday
The Festival began on Friday, September 15 with centennial celebrations with Regina Carter's "Simply Ella" and the Kenny Barron Trio's Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie. Herbie Hancock then pushed things into the future with a technology-driven set.
On the Grounds, Ray Obiedo opened the Garden Stage, followed by local heroes Along Came Betty and the 2017 Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors. Dizzy's Den was the another voyage into the future with GoGo Penguin and the intense fusion of Miles Mosley. The Night Club hosted Matt Wilson's lauded new project, Honey & Salt; the debut of vocalist Alicia Olatuja and then the first trio appearance of MJF's Artist-in-Residence, Gerald Clayton. The Pacific Jazz Café was the site of three sets from the Latin Jazz Collective, vocalist Roberta Gambarini, and the highly-anticipated Joel Frahm Quartet, paying tribute to Stan Getz. Matthew Whitaker performed three sets on the Courtyard stage as well, while the Blue Note at Sea Tent was an instant hit all weekend, beginning with an interview with Wayne Shorter.
Musical Highlights: Saturday
Saturday's unstoppable Arena shows began with outstanding MJF debuts from Monsieur Periné and Mr. Sipp, who repeated their performances at the Garden Stage later in the afternoon. Dee Dee Bridgewater gave an inspiring ode to Memphis and even sang Prince's "Purple Rain," an unexpected song to hear. In the evening, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra debuted their new 40-minute opus, "Stories of a Groove" to universal acclaim. Leslie Odom Jr. held the Arena audience transfixed from the very first downbeat of his set, and the tribute to Sonny Rollins topped of the evening, with an extra-dose of love for 90-year-old Jimmy Heath.
The Garden Stage Presented by Hep C Hope was filled all day: Con Brio, The Suffers, Mr. Sipp, Monsieur Periné, and Sammy Miller and the Congregation kept the bleachers full. Mr. Sipp's walking-through-the crowd-while-soloing-on-guitar was photographed by nearly every person at the event in what was a sheer joy to watch. Standout performances from the 52 Saturday events included Roy Hargrove, the Joanne Brackeen Trio, a conversation with Herbie Hancock, as well as Kandace Springs, Regina Carter, the Kyle Eastwood Band, the DownBeat Blindfold Test with Tia Fuller, and an afternoon's full schedule on the Jazz Education Stage of young bands from across the region.
Musical Highlights: Sunday
Sunday's 58 shows began with youthful start with the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which featured the country's finest high school student musicians and Artists-In-Residence, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Gerald Clayton. John Beasley's MONK'estra gave a modern reading on classic songs from Thelonious, and then the weekend's most anticipated artist, Common, shattered notions of what jazz can be. "Hip hop is the child of jazz culture," said Common. "We recognize that."
The evening's Arena performances were kicked off by the serene yet playful duo of masters Chris Thiele and Brad Mehldau, after which Angélique Kidjo kicked off a high-energy and inspiring salsa set. The evening's closers, the acoustic duo of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, treated the audience to "the netherworld between the progressive classical and jazz camps" according to Classical Voice North America reporter Richard Ginell. "Neither of these veterans have lost an iota of technique or curiosity, and they stayed on the uncompromising high road as the 60th Monterey Jazz Festival came to a close."
Standout performances from Sunday's 52 shows included the Linda May Han Oh Quintet, Joe Lovano Classic Quartet, Tia Fuller Quintet with Ingrid Jensen, conversations with Chick Corea and Jimmy Heath, and the legendary Hammond B3 Blowout with Amendola vs. Blades, Chester Thompson and James Carter. Another highlight was the panel topic "Women in Jazz," which was hosted by the Blue Note at Sea Tent.
All Saturday and Sunday, an expanded lineup of 21 events on the North Coast Brewing Company Jazz Education Stage from student groups, ranging from the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, school combos and alumni, to student jam sessions, a percussion workshop, and Tai Chi classes presented by Hep C Hope. Energetic winning bands from the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Festival performed in the Night Club along with the Festival's own honor ensembles.
The Jazz Theater also showed simulcasts of the Arena performances, as well as screenings of the documentaries I Called Him Morgan and Chick Corea: The Musician.
2017 Partners Help Support Jazz Education
Hep C Hope once again presented the Garden Stage, North Coast Brewing Company, celebrating their 12th year as Official Monterey Jazz Festival Beers, hosted the North Coast Brewing Jazz Education Stage for the third year in a row. District 7, Official Wines of Monterey Jazz Festival, hosted the District 7 Premier Club, and DownBeat, Blue Note at Sea, Larabar, Macy's, San Francisco Chronicle and others hosted booths on the Midway. And in support of getting younger children exposed to instruments, Yamaha hosted the Yamaha Experience Tent all weekend and the popular Instrument Petting Zoo featured during Sunday's Family Day.
The announcement of 2018 Monterey Jazz Festival Arena and Grounds artists will be made in spring 2018, when tickets for the 61st Annual Monterey Jazz Festival will be available for purchase.
The 61st Annual Monterey Jazz Festival will take place on the Monterey County Fairgrounds & Event Center, September 21-23, 2018, with more than 500 artists performing on 8 stages for 3 nights and 2 days of the world's best jazz.