Festivals offer the opportunity to see a variety of artists, within a short period of time, and frequently at the same venue. The Monterey Jazz Festival is one of that presents a well crafted mix ranging from established legends of the music to local fan favorites. Each year I especially look forward to hearing emerging artists that have either been part of groups or recordings from headliners and legends, composing and producing for other artists, part of a collective of artists involved with a variety of collaborations, or, stepping out on their own as a leader.
The artist list for the 66th Monterey Jazz Festival is filled with artists I'm very familiar with and plan to hear their latest work. It also contains quite a few I've either heard on other artist's recordings, read about a number of times, heard their current recordings, or are just plain curious about. I know the pattern well. These artists that are less familiar to the festival audience at large frequently find their way to the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the arena within a few years. Here's a shortlist of some of the artists I'll be featuring here in upcoming editions of Jazz Currents.
2021 Grammy Award Winner Thundercat is one of the artists I've known about for a few years. I know him as Stephen Bruner, from his days touring with the late George Duke, and other studio session projects. He's a member of the collective West Coast Get Down, which includes his brother Ronald Bruner, Jr., cousin, Terrace Martin, and Kamasi Washington. Thundercat closes the festival Sunday evening.
Multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato is currently the leader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's house band. His solo album Starting Now was released in 2017. A member of the Late Show band from the beginning, his collaborators have included John Legend, Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest, Jack White and, of course, Jon Batiste, his predecessor on The Late Show. Cato will open the Jimmy Lyons Stage Saturday Afternoon ad 12:30PM.
The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is intriguing, mainly because I love B-3 Organ. Also known as DLO3, Lamarr takes his influences from the stylings of Jimmy Smith, and mixes that with the flavor of Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Meters, and some Jimi Hendrix-style guitar. The trio has been around since 2015, and has had 2 albums hit the top of th Billboard charts. Look for DLO3 Saturday Afternoon on the Garden Stage.
Anyone who has followed Gregory Porter's live performances in recent years has come away asking "who was that woman on the sax?". Lakecia Benjamin is not a newcomer on the scene by any means. The 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-In-Residence played with legends Clark Terry and Reggie Workman early in her career. Voted as the winner of the 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll for “Rising Star Alto Saxophonist” and “Up and Coming Artist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Her latest release, Phoenix, is her fourth solo recording. Produced by the multi-Grammy Award-winning Terri Lyne Carrington, it includes Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, and Wayne Shorter. Benjamin will make several appearances in different configurations including the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, and with her own band, Phoenix, on the Garden Stage Saturday evening.
The 66th Monterey Jazz Festival takes place September 22nd - 24th, at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Tickets are still available. For information and to purchase tickets, go to montereyjazzfestival.org. Watch for images and updates during the festival, right here on Jazz Currents.