They Drive At 55: The Monterey Jazz Anniversary Tour
The late Dave Brubeck was among the founders of the Monterey Jazz Festival. Dizzy Gillespie made many an appearance. Charles Mingus and Charles Lloyd recorded landmark albums. Jon Hendricks staged a history of jazz here. Monterey has commissioned works by Cedar Walton, Roy Hargrove, Billy Childs and many others.
At least three members of today's MJF all-star group have long associations with the festival. JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgewater first performed there in 1973 with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. She sang Jones' "A Child is Born" then and now, on this episode. Benny Green made his Monterey debut in 1978 at age 15 as pianist with the Next Generation Orchestra. Green played with the Ray Brown Trio in 1994; from that set, JazzSet aired a two-bass duet, "Bye Bye Blackbird," with Brown and then-newcomer Christian McBride. (Yes, we have been your outlet for Monterey Jazz music for 20 years running.) In 2008, McBride served as artist in residence.
Now McBride is Artistic Director of the MJF on Tour, crossing America by bus, performing a show a night. They set out in January, took February off, returned to the road in March and got stuck in Kansas City by nearly a foot of snow. After the first week of April at The Blue Note in New York, they continue through the month, from Florida to Missouri and more, ending at Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz, Calif. So there is almost no doubt that MJF on Tour has performed in or is coming to a city near you.
After a show at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, Shaun Brady wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The lively, profoundly swinging rhythm section was the key to the group's buoyant sound, with McBride's stunning, fleet-fingered bass matched by Lewis Nash's delectably on-target drumming and the Oscar Peterson-inspired flurries of pianist Benny Green." On JazzSet, these three play alone on Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga."
Dee Dee Bridgewater herself has gotten to know and appreciate youngest member Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, and marvels at how the music just pours from Chris Potter's tenor sax. As Sean J. O'Connell reported after the show in Costa Mesa, California, "Bridgewater is more than a singer and a musician. She was the emotional core of the group."
- Christian McBride, musical director and bass
- Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocals
- Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet
- Chris Potter, tenor saxophone
- Benny Green, piano
- Lewis Nash, drums
- "I'm Beginning to See the Light" (Duke Ellington) – duet by Bridgewater and McBride
- "All of Me" (G. Marks and S. Simon)
- "Shade of the Cedar Tree" (McBride)
- "Salome's Dance (excerpt)" (Potter)
- "Tanga" (Dizzy Gillespie) – Green, McBride and Nash only
- "A Child is Born" (Thad Jones)
- "Certainly" (Green)
- "Filthy McNasty" (Horace Silver)
Thanks to Tim Jackson, Artistic Director of the MJF on Tour. Kevin Struthers is Director of Jazz at the Kennedy Center. Photos from the sound check are by Jeffrey Kliman. Recording engineers are Greg Hartman and Duke Markos; surround sound mix by Duke Markos. Script by Mark Schramm.