The 62nd annual Monterey Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday, September 29, with fans from across California and the country descending on the Monterey County Fairgrounds for a weekend which featured nearly 130 performances and events. The Festival was filled with many performances that stretched across a wide range of the jazz world and beyond, while maintaining a holistic approach and commitment to showcasing jazz legends and household name musicians alongside newer and emerging artists.The Festival’s Arena performances began on Friday, September 27 with a tribute to the pioneering pianist Mary Lou Williams, featuring MJF’s Artists-in-Residence, Allison Miller and Derrick Hodge. Arena performances included NEA Jazz Masters Kenny Barron and Dave Holland; Diana Krall, accompanied by Joe Lovano, John Clayton, Anthony Wilson and Karriem Riggins; Larkin Poe, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians Cha Wa, the psychedelic hip-hop of Tank and the Bangas; the Christian McBride Big Band, Eliane Elias, Chris Botti, the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Candy Dulfer, Jazzmeia Horn, Bob James, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller; and Snarky Puppy, providing a wide-angle view of jazz in 2019.
Breakout blues guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram had the crowd in the palm of his hand for his Garden Stage performance on Saturday, September 28. Grounds stages showcased many up-and-coming, emerging and favorite artists, including SambaDá, Gerald Clayton, Leyla McCalla, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, and Ambrose Akinmusire on the Garden Stage; the Chris Potter Circuits Trio, A Christian McBride Situation, Derrick Hodge Band, Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, Parlour Game, Antonio Sánchez & Migration, and Jazzmeia Horn in Dizzy’s Den; Connie Han, Bria Skonberg, Donna Grantis, Luciana Souza, Boom Tic Boom, Michael Mayo, Yellowjackets, Amina Claudine Myers, Doug Carn, and Mike LeDonne in the Night Club; and DJ Brother Mister, Taylor McFerrin, Ben Flocks, Sasha Berliner, Roberta Gambarini and Jeb Patton, and Tammy L. Hall and Ruth Davies in the Pacific Jazz Café, and many others.
The North Coast Brewing Jazz Education Stage, Yamaha Courtyard Stage and Night Club also featured 36 performances from some of the top student groups around the country and Central America, including MJF’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Combo, MJF’s Women in Jazz Combo and the CCCN Jazz Orchestra from Costa Rica.
MJF Jazz Education Alumni Make an Impact
Saturday night’s Arena show featured the debut of the Showcase and Commission artist Christian McBride’s big band’s tribute to the late Roy Hargrove, entitled “Roy Anthony: The Fearless One.” The thrilling moment of the evening came at the announcement of McBride’s premiere when he brought out early-twenties-aged bassist, MJF alumni and Monterey native Kanoa Mendenhall to perform the commission piece while he conducted his orchestra. Recommended to McBride by MJF Artistic Director Tim Jackson as a rehearsal bassist the day before, Mendenhall was surprised backstage to hear her name being called out to play. “I was just expecting to play the rehearsal, I didn’t know I was going to play the show,” said Mendenhall to KSBW-TV. “I sight read the music at the moment, so it was a little nerve wracking, but I think I made it through.”
Kanoa Mendenhall and her father, Eddie Mendenhall, were featured performers all weekend on the Yamaha Courtyard Stage. Kanoa also played with vibraphonist Sasha Berliner on Saturday night. Both Eddie and Kanoa were members of MJF’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in the past (in 1989-90 and 2015) and are the only parent-child members of the band since it was formed in 1971.
Other past Next Generation Jazz Orchestra members—some as leaders, and some as sidemen—made an impact during the weekend, including trumpeters Steven Bernstein (with his MTO West) Adam O’Farrill (Boom Tic Boom) and Ambrose Akinmusire; drummers Justin Brown (with Ambrose Akinmusire) and Jaz Sawyer (with Marcus Shelby); pianists Patrice Rushen (A Christian McBride Situation) and James Francies (with the Chris Potter Circuits Trio); saxophonists Ben Flocks (Mask of the Muse), Chase Baird (Antonio Sánchez & Migration), Morgan Guerin (Sasha Berliner) and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (Chris Botti); and trombonist Natalie Cressman. Other MJF jazz education program alumni included pianist Gerald Clayton, and drummers Kendrick Scott (Gerald Clayton), Mike Mitchell (Derrick Hodge), and percussionist Tyler Tolles (USAF Commanders).
Continuing a family tradition of featuring West Coast performers as well as family connections that have long been a hallmark of Monterey Jazz Festival presentations, Andy Gilbert noted in the San Francisco Classical Voice that “parents and their offspring provided a running familial theme throughout the weekend.” Natalie Cressman and her father, Jeff Cressman (MTO West, Electric Squeezebox Orchestra) performed, along with Gerald Clayton and John Clayton (with Diana Krall). Legacies in the jazz lineage were also represented with Anthony Wilson (son of Gerald Wilson, performing with Diana Krall,) and Adam O’Farrill (with Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, son of Arturo O’Farrill and grandson of Chico O’Farrill). Eddie and Kanoa Mendenhall provided the most direct parent-child performing artists of the weekend as they played six sets on the Yamaha Courtyard Stage.
The Jazz Theater also showed simulcasts of the Arena performances, as well as screenings of three documentaries: Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool; Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes and Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band.
2019 Partners Help Support Jazz Education
The North Coast Brewing Company, celebrating their 14th year as Official Monterey Jazz Festival beers, hosted the North Coast Brewing Jazz Education Stage for the fifth year in a row. District 7 were the Official Wines of Monterey Jazz Festival. DownBeat, Blue Microphones, Blue Note at Sea, California Jazz Conservatory, Geico, Jazz at Lincoln Center, KIND, Lightlife, Macy’s, Montage Health, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Taylor Farms, Texas Southern University, and others hosted tents on the Grounds. In support of bringing music education and instruments to everyone, Yamaha hosted the Yamaha Experience Tent all weekend.
The announcement of MJF63 artists will be made in spring 2020 when tickets will be available for purchase.
The 63nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival will take place September 25-27, 2020, with more than 500 artists performing for 3 nights and 2 days of the world's best jazz.
Monterey Jazz Festival is honored to receive support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, NEA Art Works, North Coast Brewing Company, Scheid Family Wines, Blue Note at Sea, Inns of Monterey, Yamaha, Medcom Solutions, Taylor Farms, Macy’s, Blue Microphones, Montage Health, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Kind Bars, El Jefe Tequila, Tahoe Blue Vodka, Geico, Sanctuary Vacation Rentals, Vibes Earplugs, Alvarez Technology Group, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Naturipe, MogoARTS Marketing, Remo, KSBW/ABC/EstrellaTV, DownBeat, JazzTimes, KAZU, SmoothJazz.com Global, Monterey Herald, KSQD, STAR Sanitation Services, and Mission Linen Supply.