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.