Monterey Jazz Fest’s new era

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The Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the greatest events of its kind on this or any other planet, takes place this weekend, and for the first time in a long time, there are a lot of Arena tickets left.

Tim Jackson, the Festival’s general manager, told the Sentinel that, yes, ticket sales are slumping a bit because of the economy. But also it represents a critical element of the audience getting older, opening up those coveted Arena seats for new, presumably younger jazz fans. People who have Arena seat tickets get priority when the next year’s Festival rolls around, creating a kind of legacy audience. Father Time is seeing to it that the MJF audience is “transitioning a bit,” to use Jackson’s words.

There’s also a letdown following the celebrated 50th anniversary of the Festival two years ago. But this year’s Festival is as packed with great players as ever, representing the generations of live music. Great old masters like Dave Brubeck and Pete Seeger (not jazz, sure, but American musical royalty nevertheless) are sharing audiences with a brace of bright up-and-coming stars such as Esperanza Spalding (pictured), Jonathan Batiste, Vijay Iyer and Lizz Wright.

It all happens just on the other side of Monterey Bay. Check it out.

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