Notes on the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour BD&P World Music Series show at The Epcor Centre
The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour were the featured artists at The Epcor Centre on Sunday, January 20 in the third of five BD&P World Music Series presentations from their 2012-2013 season.
Central California’s Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world and the parallel creation of festival all-star bands has been one of its long-standing traditions. Current Monterey Jazz Festival Artistic Director Tim Jackson has extended this practise in an ongoing effort to broaden the appeal of both the festival itself and jazz music generally to North American audiences.
The members of the 55th Anniversary Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour band each have long relationships with Monterey Jazz Festival and all have a profound commitment to the cultivation of jazz audiences worldwide. They are three time Grammy Award winning bassist and Musical Director Christian McBride; two-time Grammy Award winning vocalist and Tony Award-winning actress Dee Dee Bridgewater; pianist Benny Green; drummer Lewis Nash; Grammy Award nominated saxophonist Chris Potter; and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.
The Monterey Jazz Festival website is worth a visit if readers anticipate being in the neighborhood and there is excellent biographical material available on the current touring ensemble that can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/9ws9qs7.
The objective of each show is to present as much variety as possible both stylistically and in terms of arrangements so as to more or less replicate the experience of being at the Monterey Jazz Festival itself.
Musical Director Christian McBride explains as follows: “I pick the songs each night and bring them to everybody to see what they think. Changes in the set list depend on how we’re feeling. We have a repertoire of 20-25 songs. With guys like this who are all great composers on their own, you don’t want to do all standards. We’ve worked it out pretty well. We change the line-up on stage throughout the show — solos, duos, trios, quartets and full group numbers. We like to mix it up…Dee Dee [Bridgewater] and I act as the evening’s George Burns and Gracie Allen.”
Something in the neighbourhood of 1600 tickets were sold for the Epcor Centre BD&P World Music Series show and if ever there was an evening to grasp the opportunity to take in a collection of musicians at or still near the peaks of their respective careers in this genre, this was it.
Everyone in attendance was treated to an often spell-binding display of virtuosity both on the part of the collectivity and on the part of each of its component parts.
As I overheard somebody in the restroom lineup at the break exclaim: “Who do you watch?”
I think it is fair to say that most eyes were fixated on Dee Dee Bridgewater every time she was on stage, as for example when she rendered singular interpretations of “A Child is Born”; “My Mother’s Son-in-Law”; and “God Bless the Child”.
For my own part, my attention was otherwise most often occupied by the individual contributions of Christian McBride’s impressively fluid technique as on his own composition “The Shade of the Cedar Tree”; and by the engaging physicality of pianist Benny Green as on his duet with Ambrose Akinmusore on “Someone to Watch Over Me”.
The ensemble’s rousing encore presentation of the late Dave Brubeck’s “Theme From Mr. Broadway” was a fitting denouement to the evening.
The 2012-2013 BD&P World Music Series season continues with:
- Celtic Crossroads Friday, March 22, 2013
- Hugh Masekela Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Visit www.epcorcentre.com or call 403.294.9494 for show and ticket information.