Monterey Jazz: Best bets for the festival
More than 500 artists will perform at the 58th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. And most — if not all — of them will be worth catching. Yet, there’s no way to be at all eight of the festival’s stages at once — trust us, we’ve tried. So, that means that fans are going to have to make some tough choices.
So here are some of our top picks for this year’s festival, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Monterey Fairgrounds. We figure you already know about the biggest names on the bill, such as Chick Corea and Chris Botti, so we’ve mainly focused our attention on lesser-known acts and special events.
JORDAN STRAUSS/ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVESChick Corea is among the headliners at the 58th annual Monterey JazzFestival Sept. 18-20. Full weekend passes have
JORDAN STRAUSS/ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES Chick Corea is among the headliners at the 58th annual Monterey Jazz Festival Sept. 18-20. Full weekend passes have just gone on sale. Single-day tickets go on sale June 5. RM OK for web OK for all pubs ( Randy McMullen )
This festival has so much to offer. Yet, nothing on this year’s schedule is more enticing than “Jaco’s World: A Celebration of the Music of Jaco Pastorius.” It’s a star-studded tribute to the great bassist, a game-changing talent who starred in the jazz-fusion troupe Weather Report and with other ensembles before dying at age 35 in 1987. The cast includes two Weather Report members, percussionists Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna, as well as bassists Christian McBride and Felix Pastorius (son of Jaco), among other musicians. The set list consists of Pastorius favorites, rearranged for the setting by Grammy winner Vince Mendoza (who will also conduct the ensemble). Details: 10:30 p.m. Friday, Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage.
AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE QUARTET
Vocalist Dianne Reeves performs with her band on August 4, 2012 in Newport, Rhode Island, at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival. AFP PHOTO Eva HAMBACHEVA
Vocalist Dianne Reeves performs with her band on August 4, 2012 in Newport, Rhode Island, at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival. AFP PHOTO Eva HAMBACHEVA HAMBACH/AFP/GettyImages ( EVA HAMBACH )
The 33-year-old Oakland trumpeter, an alumnus of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, has quickly become one of the genre’s brightest stars. He’s drawn rave reviews for his two Blue Note outings, 2011’s “When the Heart Emerges Glistening” and 2014’s “The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint.” Akinmusire (pronounced ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee) performs two sets on Saturday, the first of which will be the premiere of the commissioned piece “The Forgotten Places.” Details: Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet +5 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage; Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Night Club.
The North Carolina native definitely has people talking. The buzz began with her high-octane live shows and has continued with the release of her debut CD, “Here’s Nikki Hill.” It’s easy to understand what the excitement is all about — Hill is a powerhouse vocalist who belts out blues, R&B and rock with equal conviction. She’s also backed by a solid band, which includes her talented husband, Blues Music Award winner Matt Hill, on guitar. Details: 1 p.m. Saturday, Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage; 3 p.m. Saturday, Garden Stage.
THE JONES FAMILY SINGERS
Gospel fans won’t want to miss this superb family act, which includes five sisters, two brothers and patriarch Bishop Fred Jones. The Texas troupe has performed at such significant venues as the Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and is the subject of a solid documentary, “The Jones Family Will Make a Way,” which premiered at this year’s South by Southwest film festival. Says music critic Michael Corcoran in the film, “There is more talent in that group than I think any group I’ve ever seen.” Details: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Garden Stage.
DENNIS MURPHY QUINTET
SFJAZZWynton Marsalis brings his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to Santa Cruz on Saturday and to SFJazz March 20-23.
SFJAZZ Wynton Marsalis brings his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to Santa Cruz on Saturday and to SFJazz March 20-23. ( sfj )
The Grammy-nominated bassist is best known for his work with the smooth jazz outfit Acoustic Alchemy, yet he’s also performed with Maria Muldaur, Greg Kihn, Billy Preston, the Coasters and many others. He’s been featured on more than 100 albums and has released three solo efforts. He’s also a local guy, who runs the Dennis Murphy School of Music in Monterey. Details: 7 p.m. Friday, Night Club.
Listen to: “Columbia,” “Homecoming”
JUSTIN KAUFLIN QUARTET
He began performing concerts at an age when most kids are still using training wheels on their bicycles. He also faced adversity, losing his vision to a rare eye disease before he turned 12. Kauflin went on to study at William Paterson University in New Jersey, where he came under the tutelage of NEA Jazz Master Clark Terry. At 29, Kauflin now leads his own band and works with Quincy Jones and other artists. His most recent solo outing, “Dedication,” debuted at No. 6 on the jazz charts. Details: 8:15 p.m. Sunday, Garden Stage. Bonus: Check out “Keep On Keepin’ On,” a documentary about the young pianist’s time with Clark Terry, the legendary trumpeter/fluegelhorn player who died earlier this year; 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Jazz Theater.
Listen to: “For Clark,” “Elusive”
The New York-based vocal trio, consisting of Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou, charms with sweet harmonies and a winning repertoire of golden standards. The group draws inspiration from the Boswell Sisters, the New Orleans vocal trio that came to fame in the 1930s, yet Duchess also puts a contemporary stamp on the classic material. Details: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Garden Stage.
Listen to: “I Love Being Here With You,” “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”
KURT ROSENWINKEL NEW QUARTET
The 44-year-old Philadelphia native is an amazing jazz guitarist who has performed with such dynamite talents as Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Joe Henderson, Paul Motian and Gary Burton. He’s also no stranger to hip-hop, having worked with Q-Tip on a number of projects. Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dizzy’s Den.
Listen to: “Zhivago,” “Our Secret World”
He scored his first single, “1-2-3-4,” in 1969 at the age of 5 and quickly went on to appear in such TV programs as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show.” He’s since released several records, including last year’s “The Son of a Bluesman.” Peterson is a mighty blues musician who impresses at the microphone as well as on guitar and organ. Details: 2:20 p.m. Saturday, Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage; 5 p.m. Saturday, Garden Stage.
Listen to: “Smooth Sailing,” “Ain’t Going to Boss Me”
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic and www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews.
Monterey Jazz Festival
When: 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight Saturday-Sunday Where: Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2000 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey
Tickets: Three-day tickets are $50-$360, single-day tickets are $20-$142,