The Spirit Of Gil And Miles

KUSP Crew’s vote for ‘Best Set of MJF 54′? Miles Davis/Gil Evans: Still Ahead, Sketches of Spain.

Sometimes you have to let the goosebumps speak for themselves.

Orches­tra directed by VInce Men­doza and fea­tur­ing Ter­ence Blan­chard, Peter Ersk­ine and Miles Evans. More details.

Photo by Stephen Laufer

Big Thanks to KUSP’s Maureen Davidson, Mwende Hahesy, Mike Lambert, Sean Rameswaram, Terry Green, Stephen Laufer, Geo Warner, Brett Taylor, Larry Blood and NPR’s Patrick Jarenwattananon, without whom KUSP’s online coverage would have been far less worthy of your clicks this weekend.

Artist Interviews: Evans, Mendoza & Blanchard


Photo: Stephen Laufer / KUSP

Miles Evans & Vince Mendoza

KUSP’s pick for the outright highlight of the 54th annual Monterey Jazz Festival is the performance of Sketches of Spain by the Still Ahead Orchestra conducted by Vince Mendoza and featuring Terence Blanchard. The tribute to Gil Evans and Miles Davis was preceded by performances of music from Miles Ahead and Porgy & Bess featuring more Blanchard and Gil Evans’ son, Miles. Evans, Mendoza and Blanchard (who was just about everywhere this weekend) sat down with KUSP’s Brett Taylor after the very powerful, very moving set.

Ask Dr. Dawn (On Day 3 At Monterey Jazz)

As I wander around the Monterey Jazz Festival on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I am relaxed and lulled into a mood of universal love by the gentle strains of a harp from Mali on my right and the distant strains of Peruvian panpipes on my left.

Soon, another concert on the main stage will start and pull me into who knows what state of emotional energy.  Music has such power to entrain our thoughts.  In fact, numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that our brainwaves are readily entrained, that is pulled into different states of consciousness, by different types of music.

Need to focus on your studies?  Listen to a Don Campbell Mozart compilation.

Need to relax?  Try Silvia Nakash and a light spray of lavender water on your scalp.

Brotherhood and generosity are on my mind as I walk by a booth near our KUSP booth and see that they are registering bone marrow donors.  It works like this: DKMS is the world’s largest bone marrow registry with over 2.6 million donors registered.  It takes 15 seconds to swab your cheek and send off a few skin cells.   It is analyzed for the surface markers on the white blood cells and entered into the database with your contact info. The registration is free.  What do you get?  The chance to someday save a life and how cool is that?

Bone marrow donation nowadays is no more painful that a peripheral blood draw.  It is the same process as any blood donation and then the blood is processed to separate out the white blood cells, including the stem cells.  The times in my almost 25 years as a physician which are among the most meaningful are, unsurprizingly, the times I have been privileged to save a human life.  Here is an opportunity for anyone to experience the same sense of personal validation and special significance:

Go to or to learn more about how you can give to another special person the gift of life.

MJFood, Part V

The most Asian Monterey Jazz 54 got was probably Friday night during Hiromi’s muscular set on the Jimmy Lyons stage, but the Eastern vibe has been alive and well all three days on the food front.

One can tour through India, make a stop in China, talk a little Thai in Bangkok, and go crazy in Korea. KUSP’s Mike Lambert went with the first in the form of some spinach and roti. Mwende Hahesy chose the last and got some noodles and kimchee, passing on a rather temping looking Korean BBQ. Verdict? Amasian.

Artist Interviews: India.Arie & Idan Raichel


India.Arie & Idan Raichel took the Sunday MJF crowd to church with hymns calling for peace and unity on the Jimmy Lyons (Arena) Stage. The two discussed their Open Door project, which came out of India.Arie’s sabbatical in Israel. That’s where she connected with songwriter and producer Idan Raichel. A friendship and songwriting partnership was born. KUSP’s Brett Taylor got the details.

Idan Raichel:

Strollin’ On A Sunday Afternoon At MJF

The dappled light spilling through the trees just seemed the perfect filter for a hazy start to the last day of the Monterey Jazz Festival. People seem lazier and laid back, everything slower and a bit less frenetic than Saturday’s jollity. No slowing down the music, though.  Listening to KUSP while driving to Monterey, a colossus of sound propelled me down Highway 1 as I took in the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra directed by the ever-inspiring Paul Contos, with such lights as Joshua Redman in front. Ow, so tight I could have bounced on it down the road, but just listened with awe, not just to Redman–who gave every ounce again just as he had the night before with his own James Farm on the Jimmy Lyons Arena Stage. This time it was all relayed toward the ensemble of the best and brightest young musicians from high schools all over the country.

Arriving to that aforementioned mellow dappled place I headed right away to hear India Arie and Idan Raichel on that Arena stage in honor of the young woman, Symphony, whom I interviewed yesterday. According to Symphony’s mother who should know, she is a fabulous singer who did get into the Next Generation Jazz Camp and is headed to a career in music. Symphony said India inspired her and she was thinking this was the kind of music that will bring more young people to jazz.

So thinking of this young woman and others of her age I witnessed India create a sacred space of the huge arena with “We Are Immortal” reaching down into the deep resonant place where her voice came from and into the heights. I can see how young singers love her, the stylings of pop, the One World Message, the constant motion that seems redolent of Sufi dances and yoga. She was beautiful.

Standing in line to get into the Nightclub I spoke with Anna from Los Angeles who was just coming to hear “the young folks” play and hadn’t realized we were about to hear the Hamilton High School Academy of Music Combo perform. Ana was thrilled, “They’re from my neighborhood. I can’t believe it.” Synchronicity seems to rule this event.

The first place winners of the NexGen High School competition, the combo of sax, guitar, piano, bass and drums began with a hardbop “Yes and No” finding the audience suitably blown away. They moved into “Swell” an original bossa nova composition by their pianist, Anthony Luca. A fine piece and a great combo, they took the energy of the bossanova and pushed it into abstract realms before bringing it back to a satisfying melodic resolution.
In the Garden Stage I ate my late lunch of catfish and potato salad (we are walking it off, you see) and joined the Garden Stage in full and absolutely gleeful swing with Cow Bop fronted by Bruce Forman on guitar, Alan King on bass, Jake Reed on drums and the vocals of Pamela Formans. It was a fine surprise to see the great Phil Salazar of Ventura on fiddle, I’ve followed him for years.  What a joy they were, funny, nevermissabeat masterful and danceable music of the Cow Cow Boogie variety, a tight and lovable ensemble.  Salazar can do symphonic, he can do Hot Club, but what he does so memorably is tie those notes up into twisty cowtails and send them home laughing. One MJF moment…just after Forman finished flogging their Cow Bop Party Pack (a flashdrive with bottle opener handle and coasters, just add beer) when overhead some jets roared by…Salazar played the notes of the jet.

So that was a full afternoon of musical fun. Now for a warm jacket and a night of it.

Photos and words by KUSP’s Mau­reen Davidson

Artist Interviews: Next Generation Orchestra


Photo by Stephen Laufer

The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra is a long-running crowd favorite at the Monterey Jazz Festival and year 54′s edition didn’t disappoint. Joshua Redman, Benny Green and Donny McCaslin (Benny and Donny both went through the program in their high school days) joined the Orchestra for a Jimmy Lyons (Arena) Stage set and in KUSP’s Sturgeon for an interview about the music and the program — which aims to provide jazz education to high school students in order to help develop top-notch talent.

Brett Taylor speaks with Director Paul Cantos, Anthony Fung (drummer), Chase Morrin (piano), Donny McCasslin and Benny Green.