55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Wraps Up Sensational Weekend of Music

55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Wraps Up
Sensational Weekend of Music

38,000 Fans Enjoy Perfect Weather and Historic Performances, September 21 – 23

The 55th annual Monterey festival was a strong one, maybe most notable for its giving expression to a new generation of players. They may not be famous – yet. But they are coming into their prime and advancing this tradition.”
San Jose Mercury News

“Stylistically, fans feasted on everything from a lyrical festival commission by Seattle guitarist Bill Frisell to the finger-popping swing of Tony Bennett and Dee Dee Bridgewater.”
Seattle Times

“[Tony Bennett] still has the volume, the chops, the exquisite phrasing, the charisma, and the heart to sing a big show in the open air before an adoring audience. When he stepped on stage, a woman beside me said,
‘I think I might cry,’ then did. He gave us 90 minutes of greatness.”

By the time [Trombone Shorty] was finished the audience didn't know which way was up, except for the screaming F-16 Thunderbirds that buzzed the arena a few times. ‘Can you feel it Monterey? Can you feel it?’ Well, if you couldn't, you were either a.) Not in the arena, or b.) Seriously in need of professional help.”
Monterey County Herald

“…the Monterey Jazz Festival is an Olympian feast, with just about everything you can imagine, from the blasting steel pedal of Robert Randolph to the nuanced guitar of Mimi Fox, the cult-like dominance of Trombone Shorty to the indomitable Tony Bennett.”
International Review of Music

“…the most striking aspect was this year’s abundance of younger talent. The jazz mainstream spends a lot of time lionizing the past and fretting about the future, but this year’s festival felt like a passing of the torch
— or perhaps more accurately, an embracing of today’s young artists as the continuation of the jazz tradition.”

“…this festival, spread out over multiple stages on the Monterey County Fairgrounds over the third weekend of September, is an all-American and global treasure.”

“The arena hosted adoring audiences for one of the strongest bills
of the jazz festival season. Tony Bennett proved once more that age is but a number.”

October 3, 2012, Monterey, CA: The 55th Monterey Jazz Festival wrapped up Sunday, September 23 after a weekend of stunning weather and incredible performances by debut artists, returning masters and new favorites.

38,000 fans came through the gates of the Monterey County Fairgrounds during the weekend of September 21-23, which featured music from around the globe, and from all styles of classic jazz, blues, contemporary takes, compelling conversations and films, and engaging exhibits.

Musical Highlights: Friday

The Festival began on Friday, September 21 with a high-energy set from Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, a sublime set from Melody Gardot, and the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra in the Arena. On the Grounds, Tammi Brown kicked things off on the Garden Stage, followed by the talented 2012 edition of the Berklee-Monterey Sextet, and then the stunning debut of vocalist Jose James. Coffee House attendees were treated to three sets from the Mulgrew Miller Trio, and the Night Club was packed for sets from Pedrito Martinez, Gregoire Maret and then the emerging star of the night, Gregory Porter, all making their Monterey Jazz Festival debuts. 2012 Showcase Artist Jack DeJohnette appeared in Dizzy’s Den for the first of four weekend performances, with his exploratory group that fired the imagination, as did Ambrose Akinmusire, the Festival’s 2012 Artist-In-Residence, whose set is a harbinger of things to come.

Musical Highlights: Saturday

The California International Airshow in nearby Salinas provided an extra element of unexpected excitement to the 2012 Festival, with a squadron of F-16 Thunderbirds taking off and landing at the Monterey Peninsula Airport on Saturday and Sunday, adjacent to the Fairgrounds. That didn’t seem to matter for the powerhouse Arena shows of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Trombone Shorty, whose high energy sets were some of the most intense of the weekend. The Garden Stage also provided an afternoon and evening of pyrotechnics, from The Blues Broads, Mingo Fishtrap and Robert Randolph in his second set, with vocalist Catherine Russell and drummer Antonio Sanchez and Migration in the evening. The Coffee House featured an intimate setting for two sets from the Aram Shelton Quartet, the Berklee-Monterey Sextet, and three sets from the Gerald Clayton Trio. Gerald also appeared in the DownBeat Blindfold Test in Dizzy’s Den, which was also the site of three stellar and highly-anticipated sets with the Tribute to Cal Tjader, Ben Williams and Sound Effect, and the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour.

The Night Club featured the winning bands from the Next Generation Jazz Festival, the Ali-Ryerson/Mimi Fox Duo, and the band Encounter from Japan. The evening’s Night Club shows featured the dynamic Christian Scott, Tierney Sutton and Bill Frisell’s Beautiful Dreamers, whose performances were Webcast around the globe. Back on the Arena Stage, Bill Frisell’s Big Sur Quintet quietly made the debut of the 2012 Commission piece, “The Music of Glen Deven Ranch.” The Jack DeJohnette Special Trio with Pat Metheny and Christian McBride then played a powerful and crowd pleasing set, followed by the return of Tony Bennett, whose 20-song set was considered the finest of the weekend.

Musical Highlights: Sunday

Sunday’s Arena shows began with a youthful start with the winner of the Next Generation Jazz Festival, the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, making their fifth appearance on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the last six years, followed by the 2012 edition of Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which featured the country’s finest high school student musicians. NGJO Alumni and 2012 Artist-In-Residence Ambrose Akimusire sat in with the band, his third appearance of the weekend.  Esperanza Spalding made her much anticipated return appearance on the Jimmy Lyons Stage, patiently waiting at times for the fighter planes to pass overhead. The evening’s performances were kicked off by the Pat Metheny Unity Band, making an indelible impression on the audience, followed by the second appearance of the weekend by the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 55th Anniversary Tour, with Dee Dee Bridgewater taking the stage by storm. In the Night Club, the winning bands from the Next Generation Jazz Festival performed, with the final evening shows packing in for the Hammond B-3 Blowout–showcasing John Abercrombie, Larry Goldings and Chester Thompson. Dizzy’s Den was treated to an afternoon of talk and music, with the USAF Commanders Jazz Ensemble, a discussion about John Coltrane, and a one-on-one conversation with Jack DeJohnette. Jack would return in the evening in an imaginative duo with Bill Frisell, followed by one of the most talked about shows of the weekend, Ninety Miles (which was missing vibraphonist Stefon Harris, who celebrated the birth of a new baby that day).  The Garden Stage showcased fine performances from the Cal State Northridge Big Band, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Ensemble, Mads Tolling, Kyle Eastwood and Meklit Hadero. Coffee House goers were treated to Family Day Presented by Jelly Belly with the Banana Slug String Band and the Center of Life Jazz Band, with two final sets from Tigran Hamasyan.

All weekend long, Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman were featured on the Courtyard Stage, and the Coffee House Galley exhibit highlighted the 50th Anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s The Real Ambassadors. The Jazz Theater Presented by Alaska Airlines also showed simulcasts of the Arena performances, as well as the jazz films The Girls in the Band and Jazz on a Summer’s Day.

2013 Partners and Tech Add Excitement to the Weekend

Partners provided activities and events throughout the weekend to enhance the Festival experience for fans. Amoeba Records was set up at the center of the Midway, featuring CDs, rare vinyl and artist meet and greets. North Coast Brewing Company, celebrating their 7th year as Official Monterey Jazz Festival Beers, offered merchandise on the Midway. Newest partner, Alaska Airlines attracted many patrons to their space, offering fun airplane hats enjoyed by kids and adults alike.  Jelly Belly gave patrons the chance to be Bean Boozled, tasting a variety of delicious and interesting flavored jelly beans. Carmel Road Winery, Official Wines of the Festival, offered tastings on the Grounds as did Casa Vinacola Zonin, in the Zonin Prosecco Bubble Bar. The Inns of Monterey and The Jazz Cruise both had a presence on the Grounds, and Media partner KGO Newstalk 810 AM hosted a tent on the Midway. The jazz magazines DownBeat, JazzTimes and Jazziz hosted a booth on the Midway as well. In addition to providing instruments for the Festival's needs, Yamaha hosted the popular Instrument Petting Zoo featured during Sunday's Family Day Presented by Jelly Belly.

The free Webcast from the Night Club at the 55th Monterey Jazz Festival resulted in over 1500 people from 33 countries tuning into the stream all weekend, and made possible by tech partners StreamGuys was streaming live on the Festival’s website and media partner KUSP Central Coast Public Radio. Free WiFi was made possible on the Fairgrounds by Meraki and Alvarez Technology Group. The free 2012 App was also a hit, with nearly 1500 people downloading it during the weekend, a 33% increase over last year’s version.

The announcement of 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival Arena and Grounds artists will be made in spring 2013, when tickets for the 56th Monterey Jazz Festival will be available for purchase.

The 56th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival will take place on the Monterey Fairgrounds, September 20 - 22, 2013, with more than 500 artists performing on 8 stages for 3 nights and 2 days of the world's best jazz.

Saxophonist Joe Lovano will be Monterey Jazz Festival’s Artist-In-Residence in 2013.