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Monterey’s Musical Cup Runneth Over for its Golden Year

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By Taylor Jordan

Music, music and more music.

It'll be a good time for fans coming from all corners of the world for a weekend of golden memories at the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival presented by Verizon.

Dave Brubeck
The Monterey County fairgrounds is not the place to be Sept. 21, 22 and 23 for sticks in the mud who can't find the passion, depth, diversity and range of satisfaction available in jazz.

The grounds, halls and stages will be saturated with stylistically distinctive expressions of the art form originated in the hearts, minds and souls of African-Americans.

Pinnacle players include artist-in-residence Terence Blanchard, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Gerald Wilson, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, James Hunter, Isaac Delgado and a 50th anniversary all-star ensemble featuring Blanchard, James Moody, Nnenna Freelon, Benny Green, Kendrick Scott and Derrick Hodge.

Omette Coleman, Los Lobos, Chris Potter, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra featuring top teen players, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Eric Harland, Otis Taylor, the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Band and Diana Krall are also headliners.

Sonny Rollins
The main arena's Jimmy Lyons Stage, Dizzy's Den, Garden Stage, Bill Berry Nightclub, Coffee House Gallery, West Lawn, Courtyard Stage and the brand-new Lyons Lounge will explode with sound as 500 artists actively engage enthusiastic listeners for five concert sets in three days.

Golden goodies giving fans something to talk about for another 50 years will include Gerald Wilson's world premier of the commissioned composition "Monterey Moods;" Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra's premier of "Requiem for Katrina," Blanchard's heartfelt tribute to his New Orleans' roots; a Hammond B-3 organ blast with now No. 1 organist Joey DeFrancesco and the Atsuko Hashimito trio with special guest saxophonist Houston Person and drummer Jeff Hamilton; and the new historic-laden Lyons Lane which serves as a connecting crossroads of past and present Monterey memorabilia.

Vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Lynne Fiddmont, guitarists Kenny Burrell, Anthony Wilson and Mimi Fox, Ian Neville's Dumpstaphunk, trumpeters Christian Scott and Sean Jones, pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Kenny Barron and drummer Rashied Ali highlight the entertainment lineup on grounds' stages.

Monterey's monumental moments add new flairs and features to stimulate brains and beats.

Photographic images captured by Michael Piazza, Ray Avery and Ron Hudson will be displayed in the "Behind the Lens/50 Years of Monterey Jazz Festival Photos" exhibit in the Coffee House Gallery. Piazza's last photographs of the late great saxophonist Michael Brecker will be unveiled in the signature show "Beware of Propellers/The Last Brecker Sessions."

Jazz journalists, historians, festival producers and associates Darlene Chan, Paul deBarros, Toby Gleason, Ashley Kahn, Orrin Keepnews and Bill Minor will  discuss the significance and contributions of MJF co-founder Ralph Gleason. Dan Ouellette will host the panel discussion presented by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Clint Eastwood and John Sayles will be the conversationalists focusing on the subject "Music and Movies." DeBarros will moderate.

It's a weekend commemorating history and celebrating contemporary creativity. As such, Sayles' new film, "Honeydripper," will be previewed and Ralph Gleason's 1968 film celebrating MJF's 10th anniversary will be screened.

Gerald Wilson will do Downbeat magazine's "Blindfold Test."

The Sunday staging of new family day activities is sponsored by Macy's and features the Banana Slug String Band, Brasilian rhythms by Sambada, the Hot Club of San Francisco, Percussion Playshow and, for very young children, a Jazzy Jumper.

Grounds tickets can still be purchased in advance for $35 Friday, $45 each Saturday and Sunday, or $100 for three days at the festival ticket office (925) 275-9255, and online at www.montereyjazzfestival.org. Ground tickets purchased at the gate are $5 more per ticket. Grounds tickets do not allow arena access, but patrons can enjoy arena simulcasts in the Jazz Theater. Numerous main arena artists will also do double duty and perform on ground stages.

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