The 53rd Monterey Jazz Festival presented by Verizon got off to a flaming start with the Ben Flocks Quartet on the Garden Stage. Led by Flocks on saxophones, this was a great warmup for things got into full swing with the 8:00 and 8:30 sets.
Roy Hargrove opened the night's lineup on the Jimmy Lyons Stage with his big band ensemble. This is a huge sound, with fantastic arrangements. Not only to they swing, they groove with a full, rich sound. Spicing things up a bit, Roberta Gambarini added a sultry and sensuous tone with her vocals.
At the other end of the fairgrounds, the Jazz Mafia was tearing up Dizzy's Den. This was an even bigger band ensemble, complete with strings and vocals. This was jazz meets hip-hip meets world, in an intriguing mix of young musicians that know no boundaries.
Les Nubians was the group that caught the Lyons stage audience off guard. The music of this French duo routinely blurs the lines between musical genres. Fitting with the Friday night theme of "New Grooves", that's exactly what they brought. Closing the night on the Lyons Stage was the legendary Septeto Nacional de Cuba. This origin of this group dates back to the 1920s and was one of the groups pioneering the style of music known as son.