Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Oct 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Jazz Royalty

jazz355th annual Monterey Jazz Festival wows, leaves enthusiasts craving more

Festivals come and go, but for 55 years the Monterey Jazz Festival has maintained a level of excellence that sets the bar for all others. What makes MJF so unique is that from top-down—from organizers to the people guarding the gate—everyone is incredibly positive, sunny and happy to be there. Maestro Timothy Orr runs the event with the slightly manic energy one can expect from someone with so much on his plate—and yet, he always takes the time to make patrons feel like they’re getting special treatment. This overall upbeat tone creates an incomparable ambience of camaraderie and fellowship.

 

The only challenging aspect of MJF is choosing which musical acts to see—with competing line-ups, it can be a futile mad rush to catch all the performances. Over the years, I have learned to arrive early and reserve seats at the outdoor, intimate Garden Stage, and this year was no exception. True, by doing this you might miss out on some of the amazing arena acts, but amazing acts are plentiful at MJF. 

This year, The Blues Broads won over the audience at The Garden Stage on Saturday, Sept. 22. Take four women who each have a unique sound, combine them with a kick-ass band, and you have the breakfast of champions for a day filled with music. It’s difficult to isolate individuals worthy of comment—when everyone onstage is brilliant—but vocalist Dorothy Morrison, the original voice on the gospel classic “Oh Happy Day,” wowed with her soul sister bravado. One side-player, pianist/saxophonist Deanna Bogart, practically stole the show with her Patti Smith/CBGB no-nonsense rock and roll spirit.jazz2

Later that day, Robert Randolph and The Family Band turned expectations inside out and upside down. Randolph, by his own account, uses his pedal steel guitar (emblazoned with his name) to channel the Holy Spirit. It’s less pretentious sounding when you realize that African-American Pentecostal churches use the “Sacred Steel” for similar purposes. His funk family band, complete with cousins, takes a simple melody, a whisper of a theme, and stretches and contorts it until it becomes like sonic taffy—at which point, they keep playing for another 20 minutes until the audience is mesmerized. To top it off, at one point during the set, 40 of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s desperate housewives climbed on to the stage (“No guys,” chimed Randolph) and put on a dance party best described as “1 Percenters Gone Wild.”

On Sunday, Sept. 23, the Cal State Northridge Big Band, which features almost 20 horn players, performed amazing arrangements and wild solos—a much-loved exhibition of the next generation of jazz musicians and a festival highlight. 

jazz1Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage on stage Sunday when the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, which had been flying overhead as part of the nearby air show, flew so low over the Garden Stage that audience members could feel the boom in their genes. Rather than play through the deafening sound like many other bands did, the a cappella group (accompanied by our own Tammi Brown) set down its acoustic instruments and kept the audience focused, laughing and attentive.

All in all, from the mellow jazz soundscapes of Kyle Eastwood, to the wild educational antics of the Banana Slug String Band, to the diva jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, the 2012 MJF packed a punch.


Photos by Jessica Abramson

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by Looney 4 Tunes, October 03, 2012
As usual we had GREAT weekend. MJF55 lived up to it's great tridition. All the music was superb and it sounds like the future of Jazz is now,as long as the likes of Esperanza Spalding are jammi'n.
...
written by Timothy Orr, October 03, 2012
Thanks for the shout-out! Tim Jackson is actually the Artistic Director, but we all love what we do and are happy to have all the fans at the festival. We can't do it without you!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay