We’re just hours away from the start of the 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival and jazz bloggers are lighting up the web with their thoughts, tips and the like. Here’s a sample.
San Jose Mercury News
The Monterey Jazz Festival starts today at 6:30 p.m. If you’re going, you already may be figuring out your game plan, deciding where you’ll stand the best chance of bypassing lines and catching a top act. Here’s a tip: Out on the festival grounds, the smallest venue is the Coffee House Gallery. It’s by far the most intimate venue at Monterey, almost like being in a club. And if you scoot by in a timely fashion, it’s often possible to outsmart the crowds and land a seat close to the bandstand. I’ve seen some unforgettable sets here in recent years by Jason Moran, Dena DeRose, Denny Zeitlin, Robert Glasper and others. The place comes “well stocked” every September.
This weekend, three remarkable pianists will perform with their trios at the Coffee House. Friday night (at 8, 9:30 and 11), Marcus Roberts will be there. You may remember Roberts from his years in Wynton Marsalis’s band, beginning in the mid-’80s. He’s a serious scholar of the jazz tradition, a sparkling improviser and leads a super-tight trio with bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Jason Marsalis. Drop by the Coffee House, say, 20 minutes (OK, make it 30) before each set begins and you stand a good chance to sit up close — while folks are fighting for seats to see Roy Hargrove’s big band over at Dizzy’s Den.
Saturday night, pianist Gerald Clayton, who spent several years on the road with Hargrove, will lead a trio with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown. This is a working band, and these are three of the busiest young musicians in New York. Their music aims for a sort of rarified white heat, with nods toward the flexible rhythms and hyper-interactive flow of MIles Davis’s 1960s band, though the feel is of the new millennium, with lots of hip-hop and neo-soul grooves moving through the mix. Clayton can stride and swing, too. His band performs at 8, 9:30 and 11 p.m.
OK, so you’ve got Roberts, who’s 47 years old, and you’ve got Clayton, only 26. Closing the festival in the Coffee House on Sunday will be pianist Fred Hersch, 54. He apprenticed as a young man with Art Farmer, Joe Henderson, Sam Jones, Stan Getz, so many great players. He long ago blossomed into one of the most beautiful improvisers in jazz; now he brings his trio with bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson to Monterey, performing at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Their new album is titled “Whirlwind”; I’d expect their sets to envelop listeners with a whirling grace.
This will be my sixth year at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I’m still a newbie compared to those who have been coming here for decades (there are many), but I know where the venues are, where to find samosas and sterling silver jewelry, and why it’s good to visit the merchandise tent early in the festival (because otherwise the T-shirt you want will be sold out). I know to carry an extra layer or two of clothes because it gets chilly in the Arena at night.
I know it’s perfectly fine to see part of a set by one artist or band and move on to another (someone will be grateful for your seat or spot on a bleacher). I know I won’t see everything I plan to see. I’ll be en route to the Coffee House when a siren song from the Garden Stage will lure me in. Or I’ll head for Dizzy’s Den and run into a friend and we’ll stand there talking or go for a beer.
And I know there’s someone I’ll later kick myself for missing. That’s the way of Monterey.
Monterey County Herald
In the midst of a worldwide economic downturn there is abundance in our midst with the diverse and exciting lineup set for the 53rd annual Monterey Jazz Festival presented by Verizon.
Headlining performers include New Orleans pianist/crooner Harry Connick, Jr., versatile and inventive pianist Chick Corea, African pop singer Angelique Kidjo, revered pianist Ahmad Jamal, showcase artist/drummer Roy Haynes, commissioned artist/pianist Billy Childs with his quartet and the contemporary classical Kronos Quartet, and Saturday afternoon roots music performer Delbert McClinton.
The three-day event technically begins Friday evening and runs through Sunday at the Monterey Fairgrounds, although there are numerous events planned ahead of that, primarily on Thursday.
The 2010 Jazz Legends Gala is sold out, an event hosted by Clint and Dina Eastwood at the Mission Ranch.
Attendees will enjoy a gourmet wine and dinner experience and a performance by festival Artist in Residence Dianne Reeves.
But the primary purpose is to honor impresario, pianist and philanthropist George Wein, the founding father of the Newport Jazz Festival.
He also will appear at MJF performing with his all-star group and in a staged interview session with journalist Andrew Gilbert.
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