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Monterey Jazz Festival Wraps Up Its Return To Live Music, September 24-26

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Details about the festival, including the lineup, scope and stages will be announced in the spring of 2022.

Monterey Jazz Festival Wraps Up Its Return To Live Music, September 24-26

The Monterey Jazz Festival wrapped its 64th edition on Sunday, September 24 with a weekend that brought live jazz to the Monterey County Fairgrounds for the first time in two years and was a true celebration from start to finish.

The festival, scaled down to 50% capacity in the Arena and with one Grounds stage, welcomed 7,500 fans throughout the weekend of September 24-26. Keeping patrons safe was a priority, as MJF required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry, and to date there have been no reported instances of COVID from the festival attendees.

"We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring our jazz community back together after such a long absence" said Colleen Bailey, MJF Executive Director. "There was a renewed appreciation for the power of live music to lift the human spirit."

Friday night kicked off with the Mimi Fox Organ Trio on the Yamaha Courtyard Stage for three sets, and on the Jimmy Lyons Stage, MJF Board President Laura Zehm and MJF Artistic Director Tim Jackson introduced Pat Metheny Side-Eye, who revisited classic material and new compositions with his youthful band of James Francies and Joe Dyson. Herbie Hancock also revisited some of his most requested hits, including "Cantaloupe Island" and "Chameleon," which brought many fans in the crowd into the grassy area in front of the stage to dance.

Saturday's shows began with four post-modern sets from the Giveton Gelin Quartet on the Yamaha Courtyard Stage. Miho Hazama, conducting her chamber group, m_unit began the afternoon on the Jimmy Lyons Stage, debuting her MJF commission piece, Exoplanet Suite.

"A Gerald Clayton Experience" had been quickly assembled mid-festival week to replace Las Cafeteras, who had to cancel their MJF64 appearance due to multiple COVID infections within the band. The resulting ensemble of Gerald Clayton, Immanuel Wilkins, Matthew Stevens, Kaveh Rastegar, and Eric Harland, fused a contemporary update of jazz fusion and soulful funk.

Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, featuring Debo Ray, Kassa Overall, Matthew Stevens, Aaron Parks, and Morgan Guerin, performed music from Waiting Game, incorporating hip hop, spoken word, musique concrète and contemporary jazz, brought a deep and complex message of unity and social conscience. Ledisi closed out Saturday, bringing audiences to their feet once more with her funky R&B.

Sunday's music on the Yamaha Courtyard Stage included MJF's Women in Jazz Combo, directed by Katie Thiroux, and four shows with the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet. Wilkins was a kind of unofficial Showcase Artist for MJF64 (performing at least seven times) as he also would soon appear with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Kandace Springs.

The Jimmy Lyons Stage presented the 2021 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra conducted by Gerald Clayton. Reminiscent of a young Duke Ellington, Clayton was clearly in his element. The 2021 NGJO, one of the most diverse bands in the group's history, was applauded by the audience for their moving versions of classic repertoire, including a show-stopping version of Charles Mingus' "Moanin'" which featured raucous baritone saxophone from Bay Area musician Noa Zebley.

After the NGJO show, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, representing the 20th District of California, gave Congressional Certificates of Recognition to Gerald Clayton and Katie Thiroux. "It's my absolute privilege that I get to recognize people who are ensuring that we get to continue to hear this type of music on this very stage," said Congressman Panetta. "[J]azz music is about improvisation," he continued. "And boy, have we had to improvise for the last 18 months in one way or other. You've done that by wearing your masks, social distancing, staying at home, and yes, getting vaccinated. And because you played your part, were able to be here today ... You deserve this jazz festival this year."

The Christian Sands Group, Kandace Springs and George Benson all were crowd pleasers, with the audiences soaking in Sands' bluesy version of "I Can't Find My Way Home," Springs' emotional take on "Wild is the Wind" and "I Put a Spell on You" and George Benson's hit-after-hit set that again brought people to dance in front of the stage.

All weekend, after shows ended on the Fairgrounds, MJF also arranged or coordinated live music on the Monterey Peninsula with its "Jazz After Hours" program, with official shows at Estéban at Casa Munras and Cal State University Monterey Bay with the Women in Jazz Combo and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Other live jazz events took places at music venues in Monterey, Seaside, Carmel, and Pacific Grove.

The 65th Monterey Jazz Festival will take place September 23-25, 2022. Details about the festival, including the lineup, scope and stages will be announced in the spring of 2022. For more information, visit montereyjazzfestival.org.


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