Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Monterey Jazz Festival

Brian Blade

Coming off the radiant glow and hoopla of a major milestone year could be a natural comedown for a jazz festival, especially when the milestone was the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 50th anniversary celebration. Confronted with the impressive fact that Monterey boasts the “oldest continuous jazz festival in the world,” one had to implicitly bow down to the imprimatur of the cultural moment. For that weekend last September, the Monterey County Fairgrounds felt like some sort of hallowed ground for jazz culture.

But the fact is that last year’s much-adoed half-centennial edition, despite the sold-out house and the extra glare of media attention (even from outside jazz’s insider realm), wasn’t so musically superior as it was a properly timed nostalgia bath. In some ways, the recent 51st-annual festival, just like the 49th and others in recent years, have maintained the sense of intelligence, party timing, aesthetic balance and guarded adventurism that makes this one of the great jazz fests in the world, let alone in the U.S.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published