The 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival has come and gone but the afterglow remains. I had the intense pleasure of seeing the final show of the weekend jazz fest, featuring a line-up that evoked that first MJF back in 1958. Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck and comedian Mort Sahl were among those present at the first Monterey Jazz Festival and on Sunday, they were back again, all ancient and gray but every bit as vibrant.
A Saturday morning rain turned into a bright, golden Sunday and at sundown there was a not a trace of fog over the Monterey Fairgrounds arena, despite pianist Benny Green and his band playing a little ditty called “Monterey Mist.”
Green, with his thick moppet hair and his eager stage presence, led an amazing band that included the great trumpeter Terrence Blanchard and veteran sax man James Moody, later joined by the luminous Nneena Freelon, dressed, despite the coolness of the evening, in a stunning and sexy dress, reminiscent of a Tequila Sunrise.
Brubeck followed with his crack line-up, playing deftly and with obvious elation, despite his 86 years, and it was all a perfect night to wrap up the first half-century of the longest continuous jazz festival in America. Not bad. Not bad at all.