It’s been a busy week … so busy that it is only this morning I am able to reflect fully on the 56th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. I will offer my thoughts on the musical highlights but first some insights and observations.
Let’s start with attendance. The festival doesn’t release these figures so my estimations are based on subjective comparisons of past and present. I have noted in previous years’ reviews that attendance clearly has fallen off at Monterey. I saw nothing last weekend to suggest that trend is abating.
Is it down X percentage from last year? I couldn’t tell you. I do know there were plenty of Arena seats to be had all weekend where a decade ago there were none. I can tell you that beer, food and bathroom lines were nearly non-existent and the ushers had little to do at most of the grounds venues. Even the shuttle buses were not the sardine situation I’ve experienced in recent years. All this presents definite advantages for the festivalgoer, of course, but the phenomenon still leaves me with an uncertain, queasy feeling.
The weather was spectacular. With the exception of Saturday afternoon’s brief and warm sun shower, the weekend was marked predominantly by blue skies and balmy temperatures. The nights remained so comfortable that audiences didn’t experience that usual situation where frigid temperatures hamper their jazz enjoyment. Again, this works to our advantage but I cannot help but worry it’s a sign of the larger climate change that will cause the Pacific Ocean to swamp the entire Monterey Peninsula.
A third observation is to note that I spent less time with Arena acts this year than at any festival I can remember. (This was my 15th MJF.) That was largely a function of my tastes and the acts booked, of course, both in the Arena and the other festival venues.
I will in the next post take a look at who I took a look at.
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