Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Jul 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

United by Jazz

ae charliehunterWith the Monterey Jazz Festival around the corner, one of its many stars, Charlie Hunter, opens up about the community fostered by music

At his home on the East Coast, Charlie Hunter is just another suburban dad, indistinguishable from any other chauffeur driving his kids to soccer practice. But on stage, Hunter is famous for his agility on seven- and eight-string guitars. His music intersects with jazz, funk, blues, and many other genres, making his performances both eclectic and treasured.

But perhaps more moving than the music itself, is the amount of thought behind it. For Hunter, music exists in a realm above the political fray and beyond divisiveness, its sole purpose being to create a common ground for people. “[Music] is supposed to start a non-verbal dialogue among everyone,” he says. “[It] is supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The 46-year-old guitarist started to develop this ideology while growing up in Berkeley, Calif. “I think there are a lot of us that grew up in a weird communal way. If you ask any of the Berkeley musicians or East Bay musicians, many grew up in some very unique situations,” says Hunter. “I grew up on a school bus on a commune—but Berkeley in the 1970s is an entirely different place than it is today. It completely influences your worldview.”

That sense of community and unity is at the heart of the Monterey Jazz Festival, which takes place Sept. 20-22 at the historic Monterey County Fairgrounds. The annual event has featured every jazz legend, from Charlie Byrd to Billie Holiday, in its 56-year history, and will continue that tradition this year with performances by more than 500 artists, including Hunter—a five-year MJF veteran—Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), Diana Krall (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) and George Benson (“This Masquerade”).

ae Diana KrallSultry songbird Diana Krall, singer of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” is a must-see act at the Monterey Jazz Festival.In addition to performances by some of the genre’s most influential players, the MJF also shines the spotlight on emerging stars, like The California Honeydrops, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and Santa Cruz’s own 7 Come 11.

On Saturday, Sept. 21, Hunter will share the stage with longtime friend and drummer Scott Amendola. And with more than 30 recordings to Hunter’s name, including his most recent release with Amendola, 2012’s Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead, and a new album on the way, the pair will have a mountain of material to choose from for the set.

“The point of what I do is to give people a break from the struggle—that’s my job, ultimately,” Hunter says. “It doesn’t mean I’m putting on a clown suit. We commune with the audience as honest as we can and tangentially be part of their greater community. That is the most important part of what we do.”

Tim Jackson, MJF artistic director and cofounder of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, knows how important and challenging bringing together such a diverse community can be. From his office in Monterey, Jackson explains the bigger picture.

“It’s interesting when you consider that the Monterey Jazz Festival has a long chronological timeline where you can study how the music and the audience has changed and evolved over the ae1BobbyMcFerrinBobby McFerrinyears,” says Jackson, who adds that evolution is the nature of jazz. While some die-hard fans might only want to hear straight-ahead jazz, younger audience members often appreciate jazz that has a touch of funk, reggae or even hip-hop and rap mixed in. “When you have music that deals with emotion, spirit and collaboration,” says Jackson, “it’s important to fit as many acts under the jazz umbrella as possible.”

Appealing to listeners of all ages is a determining factor in the MJF lineup, which now features everyone from the Wayne Shorter Quartet to Santa Cruz’s North Pacific String Band.

“We pride ourselves on staying true to being a jazz festival,” says Jackson. “We embrace and look forward to finding acts that have elements of jazz and that might lie just outside the jazz realm so we can appeal to the widest possible jazz audience.” 


The Monterey Jazz Festival takes place Sept. 20-22 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2000 Fairground Road, Monterey. For tickets, event schedule, and more information, visit montereyjazzfestival.org.

Photos: Bobby McFerrin by Carol Friedman. Diana Krall by Mark Seliger

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 25

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.