Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Sep 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

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.