Friday, April 6, 2007

Monterey gears up to celebrate the big 5-0

Staking its claim for the honors of the music festival event of the 2007 season, the Monterey Jazz Festival announced an expansive program to celebrate its 50th anniversary this September.

Besides a stellar lineup of jazz legends, the program features three musicians in special rolls, a grounds expansion including a new historical exhibit and performance venue, publication of a coffee table history book, and launch of a new record label.

The world-renowned event takes place September 21-23, 2007, on the familiar oak-studded grounds of the Monterey (CA) Fairgrounds, the location of the festival since 1958. Tickets went on sale last week at the festival website and by phone at (925) 275-9255.

Headline artists include Diana Krall, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, the Dave Brubeck Quartet featuring guitarist Jim Hall, John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Los Lobos, bluesmen Otis Taylor and James Hunter, Cuban vocalist Issac Delgado and the supergroup of Dave Holland, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Potter and Eric Harland.

Three musicians will be featured in special roles and play in multiple configurations. Artist-In-Residence, Trumpeter Terence Blanchard, this year's artist in residence, will appear with the MJF Chamber Orchestra, his own quintet, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and a group of festival all-stars. Legendary jazz guitarist Jim Hall will be the "showcase artist" and will appear with his own quartet, in duo with pianist Geoff Keezer, and with Dave Brubeck's Quartet. Commission artist Gerald Wilson will premiere "Monterey Moods," his third milestone composition for MJF.

The grounds additions are meant to mark the anniversary and establish a future legacy. A new strolling lane adjacent to the main stage entrance and named for festival founder Jimmy Lyons will feature displays about the festival's history and an autograph booth. At the end of the lane, a new lounge will serve as a venue for DJs spinning jazz, hip-hop and dance music.

A new book, "The Art of Jazz," recapping the 50-year history of the festival will be available for sale on the website before the festival. The new record label, Monterey Jazz Festival Records, will issue historic and new festival recordings.

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