The Monterey Jazz Festival organizers have delivered a real one-two punch to music lovers in the area: on the heels of the exhilarating Next Generation Festival this past weekend (28-30 March), showcasing the best young jazz musicians from across the country, the MJF this week announced the lineup for the September MJF, and it’s a particularly dazzling array.
Where to start? How about with The Roots! ?uestlove and Black Thought and all the cats in Philadelphia’s boundary-busting hybrid live hip hop band (which is also the house orchestra at the Tonight Show) will take the Main Stage Saturday night. This is an encouraging signal of MJF programmers’ eclectic tastes and forward-looking vision. The Roots’ presence at MJF will also provide an opportunity to reform the under-appreciated Philadelphia Experiment, a troupe that includes Roots’ drummer/leader Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson, pianist Uri Caine (of trumpeter Dave Douglas’s group, among other gigs) and super bassist and MJF favorite Christian McBride. Check out the Philadelphia Experiment’s self-titled 2001 album to whet your appetite.
And then there’s Artist-in-Residence Eric Harland. The drummer arrives with his own Voyager group, as well as his sometime boss Charles Lloyd, in tow. Lloyd’s musical trajectory is inextricably linked to Monterey: just give the saxophonist’s classic Forest Flower, recorded at the MJF in 1966 with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette, a listen to get a sense of his history here.
And what about Herbie Hancock, the greatest pianist in jazz? Or pianist Robert Glasper, arguably Hancock’s most ardent contemporary acolyte? Or breakout vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose transcendent Kuumbwa date some months back lingers sweetly in the memory of Santa Cruz jazz fans?
There are many more great artists. Stay tuned to KUSP and kusp.org for more details and coverage of the festival itself in the fall. A partial list:
Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, The Roots, Booker T. Jones, Eric Harland, Davina & The Vagabonds, Gary Clark Jr., Lisa Fischer, Marcus Miller, Christian McBride, Zakir Hussain, Billy Childs, Ambrose Akinmusire, Shawn Colvin, Aaron Diehl, Jon Batiste, Michael Feinstein, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Robert Glasper, Jason Moran, Ana Popovic, Samba Da, Chris Dave, Becca Stevens, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Loueke, Red Baraat, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Geoffrey Keezer Trio, Brian Blade, Eric Harland, Harold Lopez-Nussa, Youn Sun Nah, Ulf Wakenius, Daniel Rosenboom, Ben Flocks, Tony Monaco, Pamela Rose, Wayne De La Cruz.
And so it goes. You’ll have to look at the Monterey Jazz Festival website for all the details.