NPR didn't make the trip this year, and we wore MinnPost creds, but I did write a piece for A Blog Supreme spotlighting five first-timers at Monterey, all singers. It gave me a chance to talk with the festival's artistic director, Tim Jackson, and an excuse (like I needed one) to see singers I'd never seen live. I skipped Melody Gardot because a late-in-the-game schedule change put her up against Jose James, whom I'd arranged to interview for MinnPost. But I had the chance to hear Meklit Hadero, Catherine Russell, James, and Gregory Porter, all of whom turned in fine performances. Both James and Porter look to be the next big thing, each in his own way: Porter more classic and mainstream (but so passionate), James more modern and cutting-edge, but with roots sunk deep in jazz history and tradition.
|Jose James at MJF55 by John Whiting|