Saturday at the Monterey Jazz Festival? Let me begin with a rant familiar to long-time readers.
How about some blues?!
I recognize that not everyone feels as strongly as I do on this subject and that booking a festival is as much about artist availability as it is producers’ priorities. All I know is that as a blues fan Monterey has offered me some titanic Saturday afternoon sets over the years from the likes of Buddy Guy, Lucky Peterson and Buckwheat Zydeco. Nothing gets the blood and the audience moving like some gritty, 12-bar blues or a pumping Cajun accordion and I at least suffer from its absence. Bummer.
As for the afternoon’s offerings, let’s first note a double dose of Brubeck. At 2 p.m., stop by Dizzy’s Den for a panel discussion with the pithy title, “Dave Brubeck: Hip as a Pair of Horned Rimmed Glasses.” As soon as that concludes head over to the Night Club to catch the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. This ensemble features some of the best college-aged jazz players in the country and is dedicated to Brubeck’s vision of social equality and musical excellence.
George Benson (2:45 p.m., Arena) is a must-see. I’ve had the opportunity to interview Benson and can report he lives up to his nickname Gentleman George while also being among jazz guitar’s greatest innovators and brightest stars.
Saturday night, particularly the 8 p.m. hour, offers the weekend’s most vexing scheduling conflicts. Simply put, you cannot go wrong checking out Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Quintet (Arena), Mark Cary Focus Trio (Garden Stage) or the Orrin Evans Trio (Coffee House). And, oh yeah, your fourth choice in that slot is the Ravi Coltrane Quartet (Dizzy’s Den). There is no right or wrong answer here – no matter what choice you make you will both encounter and miss out on excellent jazz.
The choices are clearer later in the evening. Prism with Dave Holland, Kevin Eubanks, Craig Taborn and Eric Harland should be outstanding (9:20 p.m., Arena) but I am loathe to miss Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola (9:30 p.m., Dizzy’s Den). One strategy is to skip Bobby McFerrin’s set (10:50 p.m., Arena) and opt instead to see the Lovano-Douglas performance (11 p.m., Dizzy’s Den), particularly if you opted to catch one of the other bands at 8 p.m.
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