This Saturday, the Monterey Jazz Festival will be gracing the stage at the Krannert Center for the Performance Arts’s Tryon Festival Theatre for an hour and a half of fresh, intense, and artistically engaging jazz. The touring Festival’s last appearance in Champaign-Urbana was back in 2013 when a different ensemble of musicians put on a highly regarded show, so this Saturday has been a long time coming.
The Monterey Jazz Festival has quite a rich history, being as it is the longest running jazz festival in the world. Held annually on the third weekend of September in Monterey County, California, the festival spans three days and not only offers quality music from renowned and Grammy winning musicians, but also includes panel discussions, workshops and clinics, conversations with artists, boutique-style shopping, food from across the world, and much more. Although the festival can’t take all of that on the road, these exceptional musicians are in no way worth missing.
Raul Midon is the guitarist and vocalist for this Saturday’s show. Born in New Mexico but now based in New York City, Midon has released more than eight albums since 1999 and has wowed audiences with his unique guitar technique, signature scat singing, and vocal mouth trumpet. Midon is known for incorporating many genres of music into his performances, making his shows both dynamic and accessible. This is his fourth appearance with the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Ravi Coltrane is the tenor and soprano saxophonist for this Saturday’s performance. Also playing with the Monterey Jazz Festival for the fourth time, Coltrane is somewhat of a legacy of the festival as his father, the famous John Coltrane, made his debut at Monterey in 1960. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts where he focused on saxophone, Ravi Coltrane can be credited on more than 50 albums, whether he was himself the leader, part of a group collaboration, or as a sideman.
Grammy award winner Nicholas Payton will be on trumpet on Saturday night for his third appearance with the Monterey Jazz Festival. Not only is Payton a trumpet player, but he is also a well recognized multi-instrumentalist, having recorded and released Bitches in 2011 for which he wrote all of the music, sang, and played every instrument.
Musical director Gerald Clayton, bassist Joe Sanders, and drummer Kendrick Scott are those to watch as upcoming talent in the jazz world. They have, however, frequented the Monterey Jazz Festival stages.
Clayton won a scholarship and soloist award at Monterey’s 2000 and 2001 Next Generation Jazz Festival in association with the Los Angeles County High School for the arts. He also made trio appearances at the 2010 and 2012 Festivals with bassist Joe Sanders.
Kendrick Scott is the most senior MJF player of this group, having played with the Festival nine times to date. Additionally, he has drummed with the Festival’s 50th Anniversary All-Stars during their tour in 2008, and also drummed on Terence Blanchard’s Grammy winning recording of the band.
Not only is this Festival a powerhouse of seasoned talent, but it also budgets more than $500,000 annually for jazz education, creating programs for those of all ages to learn and get involved with the craft. With Champaign-Urbana lucky enough to have made the cut for this Festival’s limited city tour, you surely don’t want to miss the opportunity to witness history in the making.