Saturday, April 23, 2011

54th Monterey Jazz Festival Lineup

We’re just starting to see the weather turn Spring-like, and the jazz world is already buzzing about the event that closes the summer season. The full artist lineup for the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival (September 16-18, 2011, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds) has been announced, and tickets are already on sale. You would be wise to move quickly as this year’s roster of artists is nothing short of incredible.

The festival is a three-time winner of the Jazz Times Readers poll for the “World’s Best Jazz Festival”. No wonder as it is also the longest, continuous running festival in the world. At the top of the list for this year’s headliners are
Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Huey Lewis & The News, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band featuring Terence Blanchard; Joshua Redman; India.Arie & Idan Raichel; the John Pizzarelli Quartet, An Afternoon in Treme with Dumpstaphunk, Soul Rebels, Kermit Ruffins & Glen David Andrews, Hosted by Wendell Pierce; Hiromi: The Trio Project featuring Anthony Jackson & Steve Smith; Miles Davis/Gil Evans: Still Ahead Orchestra featuring Music from Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and Sketches of Spain; and many more. Over 500 artists will grace the festivals 8 stages with 90 performances.

The festival’s 2011 Artist-In-Residence is two-time GRAMMY-nominee, saxophonist Joshua Redman. Redman will be performing with his band James Farm, featuring Aaron Parks, Matt Penman & Eric Harland and will also appear as a soloist with the Festival’s All-Star student band, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. This is a special honor for Redman who was a member of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in the 1980s.

The 2011 Showcase Artist is cutting-edge pianist, Robert Glasper. Festival patrons will have multiple opportunities to see Glasper. He performs all weekend on the Grounds; once with his trio, and twice with the Robert Glasper Experiment (with guitarist Lionel Loueke and singer/percussionist Stokley Williams). The visionary pianist, Geri Allen, acts as the 2011 Monterey Jazz Festival Commission Artist, and will perform “The Dazzler,” a Jazz Tap Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. on the Arena Stage with her band Timeline.

This year’s lineup poses a challenge for Arena Package ticket holders. In addition to the 5 arena concerts, those ticket holders have the option to take in any of the performances at the Festival’s 7 other stages. Throughout the weekend, there will be some tough choices to be made as to which of several competing performances to attend.

Friday Grounds performers include Richard Bona & Raul Midón, a duo of bass, guitar and vocals; a set from Hiromi: The Trio Project with Anthony Jackson & Steve Smith; showcase artist Robert Glasper and his Trio; traditional Cuban sounds of Johnny’s Dream Club with Juan-Carlos Formell; straight-ahead piano of the Helen Sung Trio; the Cape Verdean jazz of singer/guitarist Carmen Souza; Latin-jazz from John Santos Sextet; contemporary trumpet from the Erik Telford Collective; and the Berklee-Monterey Quintet 2011.

Saturday on the Grounds brings James Farm with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman & Eric Harland; the Donny McCaslin Group; Pamela Rose, presenting Wild Women of Song; the Scott Colley Trio with Chris Potter & Antonio Sanchez; the Bill Carrothers Trio; the Sarah Wilson Quintet; Elio Villafranca & the Jass Syncopaters; Mitch Woods & His Rocket 88’s; the US Air Force Jazz Commanders, Chika Singer; the John Brothers Piano Company; Richard Bona & Raul Midón; Robert Glasper (appearing with his eponymously-named Experiment with special guest Lionel Loueke); the John Pizzarelli Quartet with guests Jessica Molaskey & Bucky Pizzarelli; Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk with guest Greg Errico; the Soul Rebels Brass Band and festival favorite, the DownBeat Annual Blindfold Test, featuring Donny McCaslin.

Sunday’s eclectic mix of Grounds artists includes the Robert Glasper Experiment with Stokley Williams; the Benny Green Trio with guest Donald Harrison performing the music of Thelonious Monk; Steve Coleman & Five Elements; saxophonist Tia Fuller; the dynamic solo piano of Eldar; the John Donaldson Quintet playing the music of Bheki Mseleku; jazz-Americana of Cow Bop; the Hammond B3 Blowout of the Joey DeFrancesco Trio with NEA Jazz Master Bobby Hutcherson and the Wil Blades Trio. Making their traditional appearance are the Country’s best high school & college groups, selected at the Next Generation Jazz Festival -- including big bands from Marin School for the Arts and Rio Americano High School; vocal ensembles from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Folsom High School and California State University, Long Beach; the Hamilton Academy of Music combo and the Chase Morrin Group; and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Jazz Orchestra. In addition, there will be a conversation with NEA Jazz Master Orrin Keepnews and a presentation with author Ashley Kahn on The Art of Impulse!, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Impulse! Records.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now. Go to or call (925) 275-9255. Full Weekend Arena Packages are available for $225; offering a reserved seat to each of 5 concerts on the Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage (renewable annually), access to 7 Grounds Stages and all Festival activities. Or, bring family and friends and experience the festival atmosphere with a Full Weekend Grounds Ticket starting at $125 or Daily Grounds Ticket for as low as $40; including access to 7 Grounds stages and activities, plus simulcasts of all Arena concerts. The Full Weekend Arena Packages are renewable each year, and are upgradeable on a first-come, first-served basis.

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