Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Sonny Side of Life

music_SonnyRollinsSonny Rollins resurrects the golden era of jazz at the 54th Monterey Jazz Festival

There are music fans that travel the globe like surfers looking for the perfect wave, and this year at the Monterey Jazz Festival there is depth, height and a wide selection of acts to please the most ardent jazz aficionado, or those just looking for a fun ride. Now in its 54th year and located on the Monterey Fairgrounds, this is one festival that provides entertainment for all levels of listeners: discussions of jazz in film with Clint Eastwood, a tribute to soul music with Huey Lewis and the News, a peek into the funkified world of Herbie Hancock, plus Terence Blanchard in a tribute to Miles Davis, to name a few.

A Grounds Pass will get you the Motown groove of Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88’s, the New Orleans sounds of Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, and The Soul Rebels Brass Band—or you can upgrade to an Arena Pass to catch the bigger names like Huey, Herbie and India.Arie. All will enjoy tasty food and artistry at vendor booths, but be warned, once you leave your patch of grass, navigating back through the crowds will be a challenge.


Expect waves of fans to head toward the stage when Sonny Rollins stops by Sunday night. The showman knows what it takes to please an audience—from his roots in the bebop world of Coleman Hawkins, to his work with Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and The Modern Jazz Quartet, Rollins is one of the last of the “golden era of jazz.”

With enough accolades to fill several volumes of jazz history, the 81-year-old is warm and willing to indulge even the most basic of questions. Asked about the meaning of jazz, Rollins says, “Is it a singer in a café with a piano trio? No. Jazz is the spirit in music, the spirit of freedom. And that will always be here. What we call the classical period can be seen in a photograph by Art Kane—of course Davis and Coltrane are not there—they were working and everyone else was available. It was those guys that made a big impact. Jazz is such an unpredictable form, it’s a spirit. Jazz is freedom—it’s the unexpected, it’s not always doing the same thing.”

Rollins’ philosophy on life is as thoughtful and deep as his reflections on the genre that he helped create. “It’s never hopeless, and it’s never hopeful, it’s just always changing,” he says. “We don’t know why we are here and nobody knows where we came from on this planet—but one thing is that it’s not all good and it’s not all bad, so it must be that there is a philosophy that we have to take out of that.”

Amazingly, after all these years, Rollins still takes himself to task on every performance. His own harshest critic, he never allows a sense of ease or comfort. In fact, Rollins treats every performance as a struggle, or a conflict that seeks resolution—a fact that guarantees the audience will be swept away at this weekend’s performance.

“No, it’s never easy,” Rollins explains. “Sometimes the results are easy and turn out extraordinarily well. Sometimes you cannot determine how these things happen. We’re subject to the elements and all the things that make a good night happen—and who knows why, because we try our best. We never know, so it’s never a sure thing. At least not for me, because I’m always trying to improve myself and the musical experience—it’s never taken for granted, like ‘Oh, it’s gonna be a great gig in Monterey.’ It’s always a challenge to satisfy the people and satisfy myself.”


The Monterey Jazz Festival runs Friday, Sept. 16-Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. For tickets and details, visit Photo Credit: srabbott


Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Ina Hillebrandt, September 16, 2011
Miss living right next door! What a lineup. Tim does a great job running this show, and the musicians are out of this world. Even the food is fun. All who can get there are living in rarefied air. Great pic of Sonny, who is not only a huge talent, but a huge person.

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location