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Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour: Mesa, AZ, April 26, 2013

Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour: Mesa, AZ, April 26, 2013
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Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, AZ
April 26, 2013

Six jazz stars connected to the Monterey Jazz Festival performed a diverse repertoire relating to other musicians associated with its history, with nods to pianist Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, singer Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
. The concert included both full sextet performances and small combo arrangements playing jazz standards plus compositions by the band's members.

Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
b.1950
vocalist
and bassist Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
, the ensemble's musical director, opened the two-hour concert with a duo version of Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light" that included an entertaining scat- and-bass segment. Their colleagues then joined for an ensemble rumble through Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan
1908 - 1975
sax, alto
's 1946 hit, "Let the Good Times Roll," that featured dynamic tenor saxophonist Chris Potter
Chris Potter
Chris Potter
b.1971
reeds
and 30-year-old trumpet whiz Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
b.1982
trumpet
. Bridgewater has the longest history with the festival, first appearing in 1973 with the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Remembered; both Akinmusire and pianist Benny Green
Benny Green
Benny Green
b.1963
piano
performed as teenagers in the festival's annual Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

The fedora-hatted McBride then led an original instrumental chart, "Shade of the Cedar Tree," in tribute to pianist Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
, that featured two-horn harmony with darker sounds from Akinmusire and knuckle-busting moves from Green. The rhythm section took over for a tightly integrated rendition of Gillespie's Afro-Cuban jam chart ,"Tanga," that had drummer Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
delivering his legendary brush work to complement Green's amazing agility.

Bridgewater returned to render Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
' gorgeous "A Child Is Born," often employing sotto voce against Akinmusire's subdued horn lines for a prayer-like impression. That contrasted with the next chart, Green's "Benny's Crib," that featured stupendous solos by the pianist and McBride. Potter's "Wayfarer" brought another change of tone and pace, the saxophonist moving away from mainstream licks for a more daring and freewheeling sound; intentional dissonance was punctuated by Akinmusire's bold moves and Nash's muscular anchoring rhythms. McBride chose "East of the Sun" for his featured chart, delivering clean, strong sounds in Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
style for a purely straight-ahead rendition of the classic.

Then the spotlight was back on Bridgewater for "God Bless the Child," the vocalist delivering Holiday's plaintive lyrics with heartfelt passion, enhanced by a Potter solo in the same mode; but then she shifted into histrionic sounds and rowdy gestures, abruptly dissipating the tender mood. The final song was her funky and raucous version of Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
1928 - 2014
piano
's "Filthy McNasty," providing ample space for a series of spirited horn solos and lively trades between McBride and Nash that generated strong audience response.

The evening's repertoire represented elements of the always-diverse lineup of the festival, one of the nation's oldest and biggest, which debuted in 1958 with Holiday, trumpeter Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, pianist Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
1920 - 2012
piano
, saxophonists Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Benny Carter
Benny Carter
Benny Carter
1907 - 2003
sax, alto
and Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, and the Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet
Modern Jazz Quartet

band/orchestra
.

Having reviewed several MJFs, it was disappointing to hear no tribute chart in honor of Brubeck, who died earlier this year. Also none for Rollins, MJQ, trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, pianist Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, or for the popular all-blues Saturday afternoon sessions. Knowing the MJF was co-founded by the northern California jazz broadcaster Jimmy Lyons
Jimmy Lyons
Jimmy Lyons
1933 - 1986
sax, alto
, a quoted reference to Mulligan's "Lines for Lyons" was, at least, anticipated. Not so on either count, and only the Gillespie chart to reference the Latin element of festival regulars, percussionist Tito Puente
Tito Puente
Tito Puente
1923 - 2000
band/orchestra
and vibraphonist Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
1925 - 1982
vibraphone
. Ah, so many stars, so little time to salute them.

This was the fourth Monterey Jazz Festival all-star group since 2008 to tour North America. The itinerary of nine weeks and 46 dates began January 10, 2013 in Santa Cruz, California, and moved on to 40 cities in 23 states, as well as shows in Canada and Washington, D.C., fittingly ending on April 30, International Jazz Day, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz.

Photo Credit

Dave Kaufman

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