MUSIC WIDER THAN A MILE
Jazz from Monterey to Moon River
Norman Warwick shares news from Lee Mergner
I noticed earlier this week that Lee Mergner had informed his readers at Jazz Times magazine that Monterey Jazz Festival organisers have recently announced a star-studded line up of musicians of the genre for the 65th Festival to commence on Sep. 23-25th. The Festival stars include Gregory Porter, The Cookers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Chucho Valdés, Artemis, and many more
So thanks to Mr. Mergner (left) at Paste for his prompt publication of the Monterey Jazz Festival news that, he says ´ represents a broad cross-section of contemporary and mainstream jazz, along with influences from blues, gospel, and world music
The festival will debut the latest edition of its Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour group, which will be directed by Christian Sands and feature Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Lakecia Benjamin, Yasushi Nakamura, and Clarence Penn.
Dee Dee Bridgewater (right) is a multi winner of Grammy and Tony awards, and a UN Goodwill Ambassador as well as an Ascap champion thereby holding an award established by The ASCAP Foundation to celebrate ASCAP members whose contributions extend beyondmusicto significant charitable and humanitarian effortsand she is also an Nea Jazz master and a member of The Music Hall Of Fame.
Tim Jackson, long-time festival director of Monterey Jazz, explained that the festival has multiple criteria for choosing the MJF on Tour group. “Our parameters are a multi-generational, gender-diverse band that reflect MJF values,” Jackson explained to JazzTimes. “The participating artists almost always have histories with the festival and understand the MJF ethos. We like the bands to be fun and swinging and have the flexibility to go in different directions and configurations. New, original material is encouraged.”
Jackson (left) was named General Manager of the Festival in 1992, when he took over the duties of programming the legendary event from its retiring founder, Jimmy Lyons. He became Artistic Director in 2011. Credited with revitalizing and widening the Monterey Jazz Festival’s musical spectrum, expanding the educational components to new heights, Jackson returned to the artistic vision of the Festival’s early days by reinstating an Artist-In-Residence and commissioning program. Monterey has consistently been named one of the top three jazz festivals in world by readers of JazzTimes Magazine, winning the top spot in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014, and 2016. Projects under Jackson’s leadership include the restoration and digitization of the Festival’s extensive audio archive collection housed at Stanford University, and the establishment of Monterey Jazz Festival Records (in partnership with Concord Records) for the Festival’s 50th anniversary in 2007. The label won a GRAMMY in 2009 for their release Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival by the MJF/50 All-Stars, which featured Terence Blanchard (the Festival’s 2007 Artist-in-Residence), NEA Jazz Master James Moody, Nnenna Freelon, Benny Green, Kendrick Scott, and Derrick Hodge.
Jackson has served as Artistic Director for Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour. These five tours in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2019 have performed to over 115,000 fans in 60 cities in 22 states. Artists featured have been: Ambrose Akinmusire, Melissa Aldana, Kenny Barron, Johnathan Blake, Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Regina Carter, Gerald Clayton, Ravi Coltrane, Kurt Elling, Nnenna Freelon, Benny Green, Derrick Hodge, Gregory Hutchinson, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Russell Malone, Christian McBride, Raul Midón, James Moody, Yasushi Nakamura, Lewis Nash, Nicholas Payton, Chris Potter, Jamison Ross, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Christian Sands, Joe Sanders, Kendrick Scott, and Bria Skonberg.
Born in San Jose, California, and a flutist since his teens, Jackson got his start in music production at age 19 at Half Moon Bay’s Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. He also co-founded and is Artistic Director of the nonprofit Kuumbwa Jazz, presenting live jazz and educational events in Santa Cruz, since 1975.
Other product Jackson has delivered for MJF include two published books, including 1997’s Monterey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years and 2007’s The Art of Jazz: Monterey Jazz Festival / 50 Years.
Reflecting its long-held commitment to diversity, the 2022 Monterey jazz festival festival features a wide range of female jazz artists including Artemis, Brandee Younger, Samara Joy, Melody Gardot, Kim Nalley, and Fleurine, as well as the MJF Women in Jazz Combo, led by bassist/vocalist/composer Katie Thiroux, and the Berklee Jazz and Gender Justice Group.
Melody Gardot (left) is an American jazz singer. At the age of 19, Gardot was involved in a bicycle accident and sustained a head injury. Music played a critical role in her recovery. She became an advocate of music therapy, visiting hospitals and universities to discuss its benefits.
While jazz is not always my own music of choice I find myself regularly placing some of her tracks on my regularly revised playlists. There is a wistfulness in the voice of Melody Gardot, and in many of her songs, that I find captivating.
Jackson said that the festival’s longstanding audience of passionate and committed jazz fans has made a huge difference in navigating the post-pandemic environment. “Every year, our September weekend is circled on their calendars and we are grateful for their loyalty and don’t take it for granted,” Jackson said. “The pandemic has certainly thrown them for a loop as it pertains to MJF. However, our pre-sale for this year is very strong and the excitement is in the air. Our folks are clearly ready to reclaim their festival.”
Tickets go on sale today (April 11). For tickets and further information, visit the festival’s website or call 888-248-6499.
The complete line-up for the Monterey Jazz Festival (in alphabetical order) is given below:
The opening event on Friday, September 23 in the ARENA features Chucho Valdés – La Creación (with the Yoruband Orchestra directed by Hilarío Durán & John Beasley)
On October 9, 2021, Cuban pianist, composer, and bandleader Jesús “Chucho” Valdés (right) turned 80. It’s a milestone after which many would choose to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Mr. Valdés produced the most ambitious work of his career instead.
A three-movement suite for small ensemble, voices, and big band La Creación (The Creation) tells the history of creation according to the Regla de Ocha, the Afro-Cuban religion commonly known as Santería. La Creación had its world premiere on November 5, 2021, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami and was later presented in Lyon, Paris, and Barcelona.
Mr. Valdés called La Creación “a summation of all my experiences in music — up to today,” emphasis on “today.” “We are working on something else …” he said at the time, his voice trailing. He paused for a second before drawing a Cheshire cat smile and deadpanning, “I’m just coming into my second adolescence.”
Dismiss it as a joke at your own peril. Valdés does not stop.
These days he appears energized by his much-awaited reunion with his old friend and bandmate, the extraordinary clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer Paquito D’Rivera. They have rarely played together for the past 40 years, and since their reunion, they have wasted no time. Backed by a band featuring Diego Urcola, trumpet and trombone, Armando Gola, acoustic and electric bass, Dafnis Prieto, drums, and Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, percussion, Mr. Valdés and Mr. D’Rivera recorded a new album, I Missed You Too, and are getting ready to perform together again.“I’ve always had hope of being close to Paquito again and playing with Paquito again,” said Mr. Valdés. “Well, here is our time.”;
Mr. Valdés is the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz.
In a career spanning more than 60 years, both as a solo artist and bandleader, Mr. Valdés has distilled elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music, rock, and more, into a deeply personal style. Winner of several Grammy Awards, Mr. Valdés, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Science last year and was also inducted in the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.
His most recent project on record, Jazz Batá 2, revisits a revolutionary idea Mr. Valdés first recorded in 1972: a piano jazz trio featuring batá drums, the sacred, hourglass-shaped drums used in the ritual music of the Yoruba religion in Cuba, in place of the conventional trap set.
Jazz Batá 2 won a Latin Grammy as Best Latin Jazz album and was selected as one of Billboard magazine’s list of The 50 Best Latin Albums of the Decade.
Also appearing will be Incognito with special guest Maysa
Playing in the grounds GROUNDS will be
Akira Tana & Otonowa
The Bad Plus
Berklee Jazz and Gender Justice Group
John Hanrahan Quartet
Julian Lage Quartet
Reunion Trio (with Bruce Forman, John Clayton, and Jeff Hamilton)
On Saturday, September 24th in the ARENAwill be
Artemis (with Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Alexa Tarantino, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda, and Allison Miller)
Las Cafeteras (right) is a Chicano band from East Los Angeles, California. Their music fuses spoken word and folk music, with traditional Son jarocho, Afro-Mexican music and zapateado dancing. The band started out as students of the Eastside Café, a community space in El Sereno, Los Angeles, where they took Son Jarocho classes. Influenced by music from Veracruz, Mexico and eager to teach others about it, they started formally playing in 2005 Since forming, they have shared the stage with artists such as, Caifanes, Lila Downs, Juanes, Ozomatli, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Their namesake derives from the organization where they took classes. To honor women, they feminized their group name by naming themselves Las Cafeteras, rather than Los Cafeteros. Their songs have themes and references that range from the Civil Rights Movement, United Farm Workers, DREAM Act, immigration reform to female homicides in Ciudad Juárez. Their song, La Bamba Rebelde, a remake of The traditional Mexican song from the state of Veracruz, La Bamba, denotes their Chicano pride. They say that they construct their music as a tool for creating positive change and inspiring others to do so.
Also on the programme will be
Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour – Celebrating 65 (with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Lakecia Benjamin, Christian Sands, Yasushi Nakamura, and Clarence Penn)
Moodswing Reunion (Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade)
playing in the GROUNDS will be Artemis (with Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Alexa Tarantino, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda, and Allison Miller) and Butcher Brown
The Cookers ( (shown left) with Eddie Henderson, David Weiss, Donald Harrison, Billy Harper, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart) all Experience counts, especially in jazz. The more time musicians spend interpreting tunes and interacting with others, the more articulation an audience can expect. You can hear the fruits of such work in the expressive language The Cookers bring to the bandstand and to their six critically acclaimed recordings, Warriors, Cast the First Stone, Believe, Time and Time Again (which was the iTunes Jazz CD of the year in 2014), The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart and Look Out!. This exciting all-star septet summons up an aggressive mid ‘60s spirit with a potent collection of expansive post-bop originals marked by all the requisite killer instincts and pyrotechnic playing expected of some of the heaviest hitters on the scene today.
Also playing will be Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart all came up in the heady era of the mid ‘60s. It was a period that found the dimensions of hard bop morphing from their original designs, and each of these guys helped facilitate the process as members of some of the most important bands of the era. Hart and Henderson were members of Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking Mwandishi group; Cecil McBee anchored Charles Lloyd’s great ’60s quartet alongside Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette; Billy Harper was part of Lee Morgan’s last group, as well as being a member of Max Roach’s Quartet and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers; while George Cables held down the piano chair in numerous bands including groups led by Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper.
David Weiss and Donald Harrison, from a more recent generation and the youngest members of the band, are experts in this forthright lingo, having gained experience performing with Art Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Tolliver, Roy Haynes and Herbie Hancock.
Each member of the Cookers has spent time leading his own series of groups as well, and each has a keenly individual sound. But it’s the unmistakable power of teamwork that makes this music so commanding and resonates with a kind of depth and beauty that speaks of the seasoned track record of its principals (combined, the group has over 250 years of experience in the jazz world and has been a part of over 1,000 recordings). You can feel the collective weight of that experience in their CDs and especially in their live performances. Since this version of the band was solidified in 2007 the group has performed at venues around the world, including headlining the Newport Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Playboy Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, Northsea Jazz Festival, Jazz a Vienne, London Jazz Festival, San Sebastein Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Portland Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, The Jerusalem Jazz Festival, The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Jazz in Marciac, The Burghausen Jazz Festival, Jazz Terrassa, The Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Jazz Viersen, Ronnie Scott’s, SF Jazz, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and Yoshi’s.
After fourteen years together, The Cookers, who “embody the serious-as-death commitment that it took to thrive on the New York scene some four decades ago” (Andrew Gilbert, The Boston Globe), recently released their sixth album, Look Out!, the follow up album to their five critically-acclaimed recordings, Warriors, Cast The First Stone, Believe, Time and Time Again and The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart. On Look Out! again the incredibly high level of musicianship has only increased with the latest offering of fresh, challenging, boundary-pushing music from these legendary, revered, veteran improvisers.
also playing will be
Dave Stryker Eight Track Band
Emmet Cohen Trio
Joel Ross “Good Vibes”
MJF Women in Jazz Combo (led by Katie Thiroux)
Moy Eng – The Blue Hour Project
Playing in the ARENA on the final day, 25th September, will be
Gregory Porter, (right) the American singer, songwriter and actor. He has twice won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album: first in 2014 for Liquid Spirit and then again in 2017 for Take Me to the Alley.
Also playing in The Arena Melody Gardot,
Next Generation Jazz Orchestra Directed by Gerald Clayton (featuring Artist-in-Residence Christian Sands)
Ravi Coltrane Cosmic Music (featuring Special Guest Brandee Younger Trio)
Contemporary Exploration into the Music of John and Alice Coltrane
SuperBlue – Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter
playing in the GROUNDS on the final day will be
Brandee Younger Trio
Brubeck Brothers Quartet
Gerald Clayton Trio
Kyle Eastwood Group
Emil Afrasiyab Trio
Flor de Toloache
Michael Zilber Quartet
Molly Miller Trio
Nate Smith + KINFOLK
Sunday Morning Gospel (with Brown, Sturgis & Brown)
Moon River Music Festival 2022
Almost simultaneously preview details emerged of the forthcoming Moon River Music Festival 2022. The event will feature Leon Bridges, The National and Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors.
According to Scott Russell Moon River Music Festival has announced its full 2022 line-up, featuring headliners Leon Bridges, The National, and Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. Originated in festival founder Holcomb’s hometown of Memphis, the two-day festival now returns for its fourth year in Chattanooga, Tennessee’s picturesque Coolidge Park on Sept. 10-11.
Todd Michael “Leon” Bridges (born July 13, 1989) is an American soul singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his 2015 song “Coming Home“, which received regular airplay and was also a Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify. Bridges’ debut album, also titled Coming Home, was released on June 23, 2015, on Columbia Records and subsequently nominated for Best R&B Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.
Also on the bill you will find The National (right) an American rock band of Cincinnati, Ohio natives, formed in Brooklyn, New York City in 1999. The band consists of Matt Berninger, twin brothers Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner, as well as brothers Scott Devendorf and Bryan Devendorf.
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (left) is an Americana band from Memphis and East Nashville in Tennessee, United States. The band was formed in 2005 by Drew Holcomb (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica). The other band members are Nathan Dugger (guitar, keys) and Rich Brinsfield (bass). Holcomb’s wife, Ellie Holcomb, who had been a member of the band since 2005, eventually stopped touring with the band to take care of their first child EmmyLou in 2012 and then later began pursuing a solo artist career.
“Moon River weekend continues to be my favorite of the year,” says Holcomb in a statement. “This year’s line-up is stacked from top to bottom. Can’t wait to gather with our friends and family again on the river in Chattanooga. See you there!”
Said line-up also includes Band of Horses, Local Natives, Greensky Bluegrass (right), Lucius, Charley Crockett, Keb’ Mo’, Hiss Golden Messenger, Natalie Hemby, Maggie Rose and more. And in addition to the main Coolidge Park line-up, Moon River will host Friday and Saturday night sets at nearby venue The Signal, including Futurebirds and The Wild Feathers on Friday, and Valley and Moody Joody on Saturday.
Most of those names will be familiar to some of our readers, with Band Of Horses, Greensky Bluegrass and Keb Mo all having featured in Sidetracks And Detours over the past couple of years,
Band Of Horses (left) is an American rock band formed in 2004 in Seattle, Washington by Ben Bridwell. The band has released five studio albums, including 2010’s Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms. The band’s lineup, which included Mat Brooke for the debut album, has undergone several changes.
Greensky Bluegrass is a five-piece American bluegrass jam band founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in mid-2000. The band has evolved over the years, growing from 3 to 5 members, adding electric effects, and touring with a full light show. Partly because of their name, many articles written about the band addresses the fact that what Greensky does is “not quite” bluegrass. In their own promotional material, GSBG describes their sound as “their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a string band with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll”
Kevin Roosevelt Moore, known as Keb’ Mo’, is an American blues musician and five-time Grammy Award winner. He is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, living in Nashville, Tennessee. There are several Keb Mo Tracks that have made their way on to Sidetracks & Detours playlists over the years, and those places remain pretty much unchallenged. We have also featured Keb´ s excellent body of work on our pages in the past.
it certainly sounds like September is going to be a ´wish I was there´ month for me !
Moon River ticket pre-sale starts today, April 12, at 12 p.m. ET ahead of public on-sale Thursday, April 14, via the festival’s website. Tickets for the fest’s Signal shows go on sale Friday, April 15 at 12 p.m. ET.
Moon River Music Festival 2022 Line-up:
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Band of Horses
Sammy Rae & The Friends
Hiss Golden Messenger
Please note the primary source for this article was written (except for italicised text) by Lee Mergner, JazzTimes‘ Contributing Editor to Jazz Times. Between 1990 and 2018, he served the magazine in a multitude of roles, including Editor and Publisher. The Moon River Music details were posted by Scott Russell in Paste magazine
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This article was collated by Norman Warwick, (right) a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.
Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve Bewick, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Four.
As a published author and poet Norman was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (for which he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.
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