There’s good news for those who can’t afford a trip to California for the annual Monterey Jazz Festival this September.
The trip will come to you — minus the California sun.
The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour — 55th Anniversary Celebration makes a stop in Salt Lake on Saturday, April 27, with musicians Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Benny Green, Lewis Nash, Chris Potter, and Ambrose Akinmusire.
The tour came about five years ago when the festival celebrated its 50th Anniversary, according to Artistic Director Tim Jackson. “The idea was to find some creative ways to extend the Monterey Jazz Festival brand out from just the Monterey Peninsula, and try and bring a little flavor of what we do to folks around the country.”
The Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world. It spreads across 20 acres and fills nine stages with more than 50 performances from some of the world’s leading musicians. The list of former (and current) performers reads like a who’s-who in jazz: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday, to name a few.
It also is the only jazz festival that exists today that is “purely jazz,” said vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. “A lot of jazz festivals today have had to change up their programming in order to get the sponsorship, in order to get the public to come out. But when you go to the Monterey Jazz Festival, you know you’re going to hear great jazz on all the different stages.”
Bridgewater said that she first performed with the festival in 1973. All of the other performers have had a long association with the festival, as well. In fact, pianist Benny Green first took the stage as a 15-year-old, as part of the festival’s education program.
Jackson said that they try to always choose tour musicians that have strong connections to the festival. In addition, “we pick a multi-cultural, multi-generational band, so it’s kind of a melding of different influences. We make sure that the band expresses a very high level serious musicianship, yet with the festive sense of fun that people feel when they come to the Monterey Jazz Festival.”
So far, Bridgewater says, this tour — the third of its kind — appears to be the most successful one yet. “It’s been a fantastic tour,” she said. “Most of the venues have been sold out. The club dates that we just finished in New York City at the famous Blue Note were sold out for the six nights and 12 shows that we did there.”
In all, they’ll play over 40 dates stretching from the West coast to the East coast, and reaching into Canada and Alaska. The Salt Lake City performance is third to the last on the tour. Anchorage, AK, and Santa Cruz, Calif., are the final stops.
The musicians mix things up on stage by creating different musical combinations ranging from all six playing together all the way down to just solos.
“They change it up every night—I never know what they’re going to do,” added Jackson. “Everyone has features every night, so you really hear a solid cross-section of band.”
Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
Leading artists from the Monterey Jazz Festival will bring festival highlights to Capitol Theatre
When • Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • Capitol Theatre
Ticket • $32, available through www.arttix.org, or by calling 801-355-ARTS (2787), or 1-888-451-ARTS (2787)