Hear that faint rumbling noise coming from the south? That's the sound of chardonnay vendors, parking lot attendants and piano tuners getting ready for the Monterey Jazz Fesitval.
As should you, if you want to get full value from the event, which runs from Friday evening through the weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. A few tips:
- It's not all about people singing and playing instruments. Some of the best fun to be had at MJF is talk-based, including panel discussions (including a seminar on the eternal hipness of Dave Brubeck), the DownBeat blindfold test and film screenings. (This year's theme is tenor sax, including a showing of Dexter Gordon's legendary acting turn in "Round Midnight.")
- It's a long day, and alternating sunburn/hypothermia can take a toll, so be cool to your neighbors. Keep conversations to a dull roar, easy on the booze and don't pitch a fit if people in front of you stand up and move during the funkier numbers. It's called dancing and reportedly enhances musical enjoyment for many people.
- If you can take a bicycle with you, do it. With valet parking for two-wheelers, a bike is the quickest and cheapest way to get to and from the festival. And the Sunday morning lull affords a chance to stretch your stiff legs on one of Monterey's scenic trails.
- Try to act enthusiastic about new compositions. You'll look like a smartypants, and it confuses the musicians.
- You're not really having a festival experience if you just stick to the arena. Take a walk! And pay special attention for these grounds acts:
- Tenor sax icon and hard-blowing soul man Lou Donaldson, playing with his quartet 2 p.m. Sunday at Dizzy's Den and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Night Club.
- Piano groove-meister Brian Jackson, paying tribute to the work of proto-rap icon and frequent collaborator Gil Scott-Heron, 9:30 p.m. Saturday on the Garden Stage.
- Jump-jazz funsters Davina & the Vagabonds, making it swing 5 p.m. Sunday on the Garden Stage.
- Restlessly inventive pianist Orrin Evans, playing intimate sets with his trio 7, 9:30 and 11 p.m. Saturday in the Coffee House Gallery.
- Consummate pianist Tammy Hall working the blues with her quintet, 4 p.m. Sunday on the Garden Stage.
- Nothing-but-wow! vocalist Mary Stallings, singing and swinging 9 p.m. Saturday at the Night Club.
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