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Monterey Jazz Festival: Trans-Generational Ultra-Hang

Review of legendary jazz festival in Monterey, California on September 17-19, 2010

Performance by Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride and Roy Haynes at 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival

Among its many other virtues, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the world’s oldest continuous jazz festival, has come to a paragon of reassurance, balance and doses of adventure. There may be trouble ahead and dire inklings in the jazz world, from the meltdown of the recording industry, the meager public awareness and grim career opportunities for emerging jazz musicians. But for one September weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, we encounter positive signs that the supposed cultural endangered species status is greatly exaggerated.

As further testament to the festival’s strength of character and vision, those encouraging qualities prevail even when a given festival’s program is less than stellar, as was the case this year, in the 53rd annual festival. At least in terms of its arena main stage roster, the 2010 festival’s fare failed to ignite much intrigue or sense of artistic vision until livewire veteran Ahmad Jamal arrived as the final act on Sunday evening, handily stealing the show with his trademark blend of self-defined standards and dynamics-sculpting before our ears.

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