Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 17th
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

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.