Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 Monterey Jazz Festival lineup announced

It’s going to be a good one. The longest-running jazz festival in the world (think about that), Monterey is making sure that its 54th year is musical, memorable, and diverse, with something for everyone. 

Which includes non-jazz performers like Huey Lewis and The News (!) and India.Arie. To get this topic out of the way, Monterey has long (always?) included blues and some pop on its schedule. But unlike other big-name, so-called jazz festivals, it’s still mainly, mostly, predominantly, and proudly jazz. A point worth raising amid all the screaming about, for example, this year’s Montreux schedule, where the headliners include Liza Minnelli, Ricky Martin, Sting, Seal, Paul Simon, Deep Purple, and a whole lot of blues. It’s going to be hard to find what some people would call “real” jazz in Montreux.

Not Monterey. It’s delicious with jazz. Overflowing with jazz. Which will pose the usual hellfire torment for attendees: What will I see, what will I have to miss?
This year's festival dates are Friday-Sunday, September 16-18. Two types of tickets are available, Arena and Grounds. The open-air Arena is where most of the big names perform—but not all, and it depends on what you mean by “big name.” Over the years, I’ve sacrificed some Arena shows for people I wanted to see in the tiny Coffee House across the way.

The Coffee House and six other venues are included in the Grounds tickets. Buy Grounds tickets and you can go to any show that’s not in the Arena. Buy Arena tickets and you can go to both Arena shows and Grounds shows. It used to be you had to buy the whole weekend one way or another. In recent years, single-day passes have become available.

These are the big names in this year’s Arena lineup:

·      Geri Allen and Timeline
·      Herbie Hancock
·      Hiromi: The Trio Project with Anthony Jackson and Steve Smith
·      Huey Lewis and the News
·      India.Arie and Aidan Raichel
·      James Farm, a new supergroup: Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, Eric Harland)
·      John Pizzarelli Quartet with Jessica Molaskey and Bucky Pizzarelli
·      Joshua Redman, Benny Green. and Donny McCaslin with the MJF Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
·      Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band with Terence Blanchard
·      Sonny Rollins
·      Terence Blanchard, Peter Erskine and Miles Evans, orchestra directed by Vince Mendoza, playing music by Miles Davis and Gil Evans
·      Plus: An Afternoon in Treme, with various New Orleans artists

And here’s a selection of this year’s Grounds Artists:

·      Benny Green Trio with Donald Harrison
·      Bill Carrothers Trio
·      Carmen Souza
·      Donna McCaslin Group
·      Eldar
·      Hiromi: The Trio Project
·      James Farm
·      Joey De Francesco Trio with Bobby Hutcherson
·      John Pizzarelli Quartet
·      Richard Bona and Raul Midon
·      Robert Glasper Experiment with Stokley Williams, with Lionel Loueke; Robert Glasper Trio
·      Scott Colley Trio with Chris Potter and Antonio Sanchez
·      Tia Fuller

Joshua Redman is this year’s Artist in Residence; Robert Glasper is the Showcase Artist (meaning you’ll see him in a lot of different configurations); Geri Allen is the MJF Commission Artist. (Each year, the Festival commissions a new work.) Plus there are the usual additional attractions: jazz films, conversations, a photography exhibit, student bands.

As always, MJF has put together a comprehensive, informative, and easy-to-use website. Go there to learn more about the festival and this year’s artists. Then, if you’re able, start making travel plans.

Note to Minneapolis-St. Paul jazz fans: This will be Bill Carrothers’ MJF debut, and also (if I’m not mistaken) Stokley Williams’.

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