Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour / 55th Anniversary Celebration

35,000 fans saw the band across the country from January 10 – February 3, and March 20 – April 30, 2013 in 40 cities in 23 states across the United States, Canada, and Washington D.C.

The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary Celebration featured vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, bassist and musical director Christian McBride, pianist Benny Green, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonist Chris Potter, and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.

Highlights of the nine-week tour included a six-night run at the Blue Note in New York City, and performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.; the Epcor Center in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; the Chicago Symphony Center in Chicago; and Benaroya Hall in Seattle.

Live from the Kennedy Center on NPR's JazzSet
They Drive At 55: The Monterey Jazz Anniversary Tour

Quotes and Reviews from the Tour

"...all band leaders, demonstrated the collective, one-for-all nature of a music that champions individual expression. In mix-and-match sessions involving its various members, the MJFOT treated a sold-out audience to a host of jazz genres and individual styles. That the music almost always succeeded, no matter if the members played as a sextet, a duo, or something in between, indicated a single truth: jazz is an ego-driven art form that demands that its performers come together in egoless style." – Bill Kohlhaase, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 3, 2013

"With a small army of its best, the festival’s touring band took no prisoners...In the spirit of Monterey, they not only provided something for every jazz fan but an ensemble performance that sounded as tight and intuitive as the best working group." Curtis Schieber, Columbus Dispatch, March 30, 2013

They Drive At 55: The Monterey Jazz Anniversary Tour / Live from the Kennedy Center NPR's JazzSet, March 28, 2013

"Touring shows that celebrate famous jazz festivals can be notoriously haphazard, but the one that rolled into Symphony Center on Friday night proved surprisingly effective. Or perhaps not so surprisingly, considering the caliber of musicians involved: Charismatic vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater shared the stage with saxophonist Chris Potter, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, drummer Lewis Nash, pianist Benny Green and bassist Christian McBride (who doubled as music director of the venture), a marquee lineup by any measure. In all, a most effective, intermissionless set by musicians who brought credit to Monterey." Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2013

MJF on Tour at Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, CA 1/10/2013. Photo by Ron Jones.

"Drummer Lewis Nash and pianist Benny Green...offered up some of the evening’s most astounding musical moments. They seemed determined to astonish and surprise each other, in fact, with many a chord or note placement eliciting wide grins and raised eyebrows from the band mates. Green played with breathtaking verve and physicality, contorting his body to the demands of the music, almost sliding off the piano bench. Nash, a master of the brushes, offered an inventive language and array of effects, all the while laying down a steady groove. But Bridgewater’s gospel-fueled interpretation of Billie Holliday’s [sic] “God Bless the Child” stopped the show, marvelously powerful and defiant." Libby Hanssen, Kansas City Star, March 24, 2013

"The Monterey Jazz Festival has a reputation for doing things right — 55 years of taking pains to present the best musicians in the best settings. So when the festival assembles an all-star band for a tour, it’s going to be a good one. And when the tour comes to town, you had better pay attention." Joe Klopus, Kansas City Star, March 20, 2013

" unforgettable evening of great jazz..." Karen Brundage-Johnson, JazzTimes, February 22, 2013

" of the most exciting tours in recent years..."  – Jonathan Sindelman, Seattle Music Insider, February 22, 2013 (Interview with Chris Potter)

"...this outfit could bring back bop or cool into the mainstream anytime."
– Lew Whittington, The Huffington Post, February 8, 2013

"The festival made all the right choices in assembling a stellar ensemble of all-stars to celebrate its 55th anniversary, entrusting its direction to Philly's own Christian McBride. [Dee Dee] Bridgewater stoked the raucous crowd with her typically saucy banter, but even when she stepped away, the band's virtuosity continued to draw boisterous reactions. The lively, profoundly swinging rhythm section was the key to the group's buoyant sound, with McBride's stunning, fleet-fingered bass matched by Lewis Nash's delectably on-target drumming and the Oscar Peterson-inspired flurries of pianist Benny Green." – Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 4, 2013

"...if ever there was an evening to grasp the opportunity to take in a collection of musicians at or still near the peaks of their respective careers in this genre, this was it. Everyone in attendance was treated to an often spell-binding display of virtuosity both on the part of the collectivity and on the part of each of its component parts." CSJW 90.9FM, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, February 3, 2013

"Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater’s exuberance proved contagious in this performance featuring a remarkable group of jazz all-stars under the genial direction of bassist Christian McBride." – Michael Ullman, The Arts Fuse, February 2, 2013

"...for the current Monterey-themed concert, Christian [McBride] and Co. are mostly taking a funky, hard bopping, straight-ahead jazz course, retracing what was once a road map for huge jazz-crossover hits...Not incidentally, this merry mainstream largely what the Monterey Jazz Festival is all about, suggested the musician." –  Jonathan Tarkiff, Philadelphia Daily News, February 1, 2013

"The six world-renowned jazz musicians who make up the band certainly electrified the audience with a masterful performance that lasted more than two hours. If the goal of the band was to celebrate 55 years of jazz, it was clear by the end of the night that they succeeded." – Keren Rivas, Burlington (NC) Times-News, January 28, 2013

"In a night full of highlights, the virtuosity of McBride...was a delight...the group reassembled and chose one of [Dave] Brubeck’s less familiar tunes,  “Mr. Broadway.” It was a perfect choice to honor his memory...It provided a swinging framework for the front line to go out charging – I thought Akinmusire’s trumpet solo was one of his best moments of the evening. And Dee Dee Bridgewater provided some tender vocalizing, slipping into the lines of “Take Five” at the end, a perfect coda to the performance. As difficult as it is to transfer the ambience and spirit of the Monterey Jazz Festival to another performance venue, the MJF All Stars managed to do it." – Mike Katz, International Review of Music, January 25, 2013

"...this session was a double treat: hearing two great musicians, both slightly out of their performance comfort zones, but totally in the moment with each other." KPLU Studio Sessions: The intimacy of the duo: Dee Dee Bridgewater and Benny Green (Live interview and performance), KPLU 88.5, Seattle, WA, January 22, 2013

"Chris Potter...could not be more in his prime...Passionate, imaginative, and knowing, with every solo Potter crystallizes all that’s most compelling about the creative lineage of the tenor saxophone. The unquestioned highlight for this listener was an unforgettable version of “God Bless the Child,” another song associated with Holiday, but that on this night Bridgewater claimed as her own. Her fiercely dramatic, over-the-top entrance on the very first verse drove the band to its most impressive feats of improvisation. Green’s piano solo on this number, full of rhythmic tricks and surprises, so delighted Bridgewater that she gasped and laughed out loud at the sheer chutzpah of the thing." – Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent, January 17, 2013

"Friday night’s Hult Center audience heard performances by the six Monterey Jazz Festival 55th anniversary tour “all-stars” who were competitive in stature, heavy-hitting in their potency and yet approachably musical. A drive to Seattle might be worth it when this group returns to the Northwest on Tuesday, because when this group swings, it swings for the fences." – Doug Anders, Eugene Register-Guard, January 15, 2013

"The concert opened with McBride and Bridgewater striding together through "My Mother's Son-In-Law." It would be hard to find a more captivating, bald-headed duo than these two. Bridgewater is more than a singer and a musician. She was the emotional core of the group who happily laughed, danced and swaggered before an adoring crowd. She is a veteran entertainer and was in top form with a stellar band and it was impossible to deny her affection for the audience and her bandmates. The jazz world could use a few more ambassadors like that." , Orange County Weekly, January 14, 2013

"...the best jazz show of the new year..." – Brett Campbell, Eugene Weekly,  January 3, 2013

"...I think we hit the jackpot for supergroups this week, because this one is amazing. Each one of these folks is definitely a headliner in their own right..." – Suzie Racho, KQED 88.5's The Do List, January 3, 2013

"Assembling one ensemble to cover the Monterey Jazz Festival's stylistic reach is an almost as impossible a task as bottling the giddy excitement reliably generated on the fairgrounds every September. But the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour: 55th Anniversary Celebration, an all-star sextet designed to represent the Monterey experience, comes pretty darn close." – Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News, December 31, 2012

"Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour/55th Anniversary concluded Saturday’s events in grand fashion. The group is an all-star aggregation of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chris Potter, Benny Green and Lewis Nash. The sassy Ms. Bridgewater was on her game this night singing a memorable ‘Don’t Explain', the Billie Holiday standard. As one would expect, this is one supercharged straight ahead group."  –Andy Nozaka, Palo Alto Jazz Alliance, November 1, 2012

"The Monterey Festival On Tour featured Christian McBride (who served as musical director), singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ambrose Akinmusire, Chris Potter, pianist Benny Green and drummer Lewis Nash. While it was very good to hear the two horn players in a hard bop setting, Green and Bridgewater consistently stole the show on such numbers as the rhythm section’s feature 'Tanga,' a high-powered 'Filthy McNasty,' and Dee Dee’s emotional rendition of 'Don’t Explain.' " –Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene, November 1, 2012

"On Sunday night in the festival arena, the all-star confab dubbed the Monterey All-Stars — again with the masterful Potter, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, and everyone’s favorite wunderkind trumpeter, Ambrose Akinmusire — offered a preview taster of a band headed to the Lobero early next year. Akinmusire’s own bright, feisty, and sensitive young band was a high point, and more reason to put faith in the next generation of jazz-makers." –Joe Woodard, Santa Barbara Independent, October 18, 2012

" was Bridgewater’s rendition of the Billie Holiday song, 'Hush Now, Don’t Explain' that captured everyone and left the audience breathless. Her soul stirring charisma was the epitome of a woman who knows her craft and one who felt every lyric from the story behind the song. This event was timeless and at the end of her song, the audience gave her a roaring standing ovation."  –Paula Edelstein, Sounds of Timeless Jazz, September 24, 2012

"...[Dee Dee Bridgewater] mesmerized the crowd with 'Don’t Explain,' and later closed the show leading the band in 'All of Me.' It is impossible to compare any singer with prior eras, where a national spotlight shone on Sarah and Ella and Billie, but Dee Dee Bridgewater, at this stage of her career, belongs in the conversation." – Mike Katz, International Review of Music, September 24, 2012