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Various Artists: Monterey Jazz Festival: 40 Legendary Years

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It is difficult to think of a major figure of the past four decades who has not appeared at the Monterey festival. Some jazz masters, indeed, were fixtures at Monterey. Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quartet and Dave Brubeck were among them. They and dozens of others are represented in this three-CD retrospective. Nearly three-and-a-half hours captures the merest fraction of music played at the festival, but the set offers more than highlights; it provides a feeling for the quality that predominated, with remarkably few lapses, under the stewardship of Jimmy Lyons and into the new Monterey era overseen by Tim Jackson.

Jackson and his co-producer Orrin Keepnews concentrated on performances not previously issued. Thus, there is no sample of Charles Mingus’ explosion of passion in 1964, nothing of the 1965 concert that ignited John Handy’s career, none of Jimmy Witherspoon in 1959, Jimmy Guiffre’s trio the same year or the adventures of Joanne Brackeen in 1980. But most of that is available elsewhere, and this “new” material includes much that deserved to be liberated from the festival archives.

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