The Monterey Jazz Festival returned to the road in 2016, featuring critically-acclaimed, GRAMMY®-winning jazz artists. The latest edition of the all-star tour band featured Raul Midón on guitar and vocals; Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophones; Nicholas Payton on trumpet; musical director Gerald Clayton on piano; Joe Sanders on bass; and Gregory Hutchinson (January and February dates) and Kendrick Scott (March dates) on drums.
The tour appeared at the 58th Monterey Jazz Festival and hit the road from January 14 - March 13, 2016, performing 28 shows in 17 cities in 10 states, including a five-night run at Birdland in New York City.
World-renowned for its artistic excellence, sophisticated informality, and longstanding mission to create and support year-round jazz education and performance programs in local, regional, national, and international venues, Monterey Jazz Festival has stayed true to expanding live performances of jazz around the country since 2008 by presenting national tours that have reached over 100,000 fans in 135 shows across the United States and Canada.
Raul Midón has appeared at Monterey three times, in 2009, 2011 and 2015. Ravi Coltrane first appeared at Monterey in 2001, nearly 41 years to the day after his own father, John Coltrane, made his debut at Monterey in 1960. Ravi also appeared at the Festival in 2013 and 2015. Nicholas Payton was the Festival’s Artist-In-Residence in 2000, and appeared again in 2015. Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders, Gregory Hutchinson and Kendrick Scott, some of the rising stars in the jazz world, have been recent performers on Monterey stages, both at the Monterey Jazz Festival itself, and as high school students at the Festival’s 45-year old student competition, the Next Generation Jazz Festival.
Gerald Clayton, a scholarship and soloist award winner at Monterey’s 2000 and 2001 springtime Next Generation Jazz Festival with the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, made trio appearances at MJF in 2010 and 2012 with Joe Sanders, and recently performed in 2014 in duo with Charles Lloyd.
Gregory Hutchinson and Kendrick Scott split the drum position on the tour: Hutchinson plays the January and February dates, and Scott plays the March dates. Both drummers have a long history with the Festival: Hutchinson’s first of three appearances at MJF was in 1992, and Kendrick Scott, a three-time Berklee/Monterey group drummer from 1999-2003, has played at MJF nine times. Scott also was the drummer with MJF’s 50th Anniversary All-Stars on the 54-date tour in 2008, and performed on Terence Blanchard’s GRAMMY-winning recording with the band.
The Monterey Jazz Festival has presented nearly every major jazz star—from Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to Esperanza Spalding and Trombone Shorty—since it was founded in 1958. Held every third full weekend in September on the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the Monterey Jazz Festival is a three-day celebration of music, commissioned jazz compositions, in-depth conversations with artists, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, clinics, and an international array of food, shopping, and festivities spread throughout 20 acres.
A nonprofit organization, Monterey Jazz Festival now budgets more than $500,000 annually for jazz education. Cutting-edge educational components include the Traveling Clinician and Latin Jazz Programs; the Festival’s Summer Jazz Camp; the Instrument and Sheet Music Library; the Digital Education Music Project; the Monterey County High School All-Star Bands; and the Next Generation Jazz Festival—which draws thousands of the most talented young musicians from across the country and around the world to Monterey each spring.
The Artist-In-Residence Program, a key component of Monterey Jazz Festival’s philosophy of bringing leading jazz performers to work with students throughout the year, includes their appearance at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, Summer Jazz Camp and the Monterey Jazz Festival, both in performance and instruction.
A leader in jazz education, the Festival has also presented the winning bands from its high school competition since 1971, and has showcased talented young musicians in its all-star student big band, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Throughout the years, many legendary and influential artists—including Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Golson—have mentored and performed with the all-star students, often premiering original works written for the band. Some of the alumni of the group include Ambrose Akinmusire, Joshua Redman, Patrice Rushen, Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Gordon Goodwin, Larry Grenadier, and Benny Green, to name a few.
Previous Monterey Jazz Festival tours have crisscrossed the United States. In 2008, the 50th Anniversary All-Star Band made 54-date tour across 22 states, to over 43,000 fans, and featured four-time GRAMMY winner Terence Blanchard on trumpet; the late GRAMMY winner James Moody on saxophone; musical director Benny Green on piano; Derrick Hodge on bass; Kendrick Scott on drums, and five-time GRAMMY nominee, vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
In 2010, Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour played 34 dates through 17 states to 26,000 fans, and featured the nine-time GRAMMY-nominated and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron on piano; GRAMMY-nominated violinist Regina Carter; GRAMMY-winning guitarist Russell Malone; GRAMMY-winning vocalist Kurt Elling; bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa; and GRAMMY-nominated drummer Johnathan Blake.
In 2013, 35,000 fans saw the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary Celebration across the country in 40 cities in 23 states across the United States, Canada, and Washington D.C., and featured three-time GRAMMY winners vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and bassist and musical director Christian McBride; pianist Benny Green, GRAMMY-winners drummer Lewis Nash and saxophonist Chris Potter; and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 2016 is produced by Danny Melnick for Absolutely Live Entertainment (ALE), which also produced the 2013 tour.
Quotes from the Tour
"The band represents a cross-section of contemporary mainstream jazz, respected but recognizably tethered to the tradition, on the forefront without being forbiddingly avant-garde. In that sense, the members make ideal ambassadors for the California festival, which routinely hosts the leading lights of the moment, offering a full-spectrum snapshot of the state of the jazz art with hints of where it might be heading." —Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 9, 2016
"At the early set at New York City’s Birdland on Feb. 6, the last of a five-night run, the configuration proved both virtuosic and versatile. They moved from steamy funk to silky ballad material easily, the various musicians leaving and returning to the stage often enough to allow for both individual showcasing and taut full and partial ensemble playing." —Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes, February 7, 2016
"Although the All-Star band consisted of six musicians, there were multiple trio and quartet configurations which added another dimension to the show. During a lively rendition of Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” Coltrane, Sanders, and Hutchinson appeared to have a deep conversation with each other via their instruments. Coltrane’s sax seemed to weave in an out of Hutchinson’s heart-pounding build up just as Sander’s bass kept the foundation solid. The sextet configuration brought Raul Midon front and center to give the audience a taste of his smooth vocals and skatting talents. During a rendition of Payton’s “Crimson Touch” off his 2008 Into The Blue album, both Payton and Midon continued their musical conversation with Midon using his mouth to make the trumpet sound as Payton kindly answered with his ‘real’ trumpet." —Sam Frank, UnratedNYC, February 5, 2016
"This brand extension of the Monterey Jazz Festival, which has embarked on a cross-country tour, inhabits an stylishly sleek region of the modern mainstream." —Nate Chinen, New York Times, January 28, 2016
"...Monterey's 2016 touring festival team is a blissful exception, one in which the players are just diverse enough, yet complementary enough to make for a cohesive whole. Somehow, the admittedly disparate parts came together into a satisfying whole, handily defying "festival road show" skeptics. Mr. Clayton seems the right person for the job of connecting the dots and voices in the mix...[Nicholas Payton] also gave us the evening's finest soloist, applying creative invention, measured doses of virtuosic spree and a sense of breath and space to each solo turn. Mr. Coltrane impressed, too, but in a more rangy, expressionistic way, evoking a warmer, gentler version of the modal tenor style codified by his visionary father, John Coltrane.
As for the "singer" in the band...the striking, hard-to-describe and monstrously talented blind singer-guitarist Mr. Midón wowed in his own unique soulful but jazz-lined way.
In all, this festival-spawned-and-sponsored group served as a paradigm of how these projects ideally work: it showcased the individual artists worth hearing, connecting for the good of a temporary team, and cast good light on the wonders of the mid-September festival itself (which Santa Barbarans really should take advantage of, as the only world class jazz within driving distance)." —Joe Woodard, Santa Barbara News-Press, January 22, 2016