Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour Celebrates the Fest at 65

  I  

Vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kurt Elling, saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, pianist Christian Sands, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Clarence Penn delivered an amazing night of music as the Monterey Jazz Festival Tour begins its run across 12 states from January through April 2023 in celebration of the fest’s 65th anniversary.

On Jan. 19, with a stop in Palm Desert, California, the MJF Tour performed at the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts for 1,000 patrons who responded with a standing ovation and clear appreciation.

The full band opened with the familiar “Too Close For Comfort” featuring Bridgewater and Elling on vocals plus solos by Benjamin and Sands. Elling’s lyrics were featured on the tune “A Remark You Made,” plus a swinging rendition of “Did You Call Her Today” featuring the duo of Elling and Nakamura.

Bridgewater paid homage to Chick Corea with a vocal rendition of “Spain” (lyrics by Al Jarreau), followed by her reflection on “Bye Bye Blackbird,” the first song she ever sang at the MJF with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.

One of the highlights of the night was a Benjamin original written in homage to John and Alice Coltrane titled “Trane.” Her fiery solo matched by the intensity of Sands on piano, drawing an inspired reaction from the crowd.

Sands as music director of the tour displayed full command of the night, but also shared an intimate arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” with an opening piano solo and a bass solo by Nakamura.

The show concluded with the Eddie Harris classic “Compared To What” featuring the full band with a drum solo by Penn and even a nice rap by Benjamin. With personal reflections of their mentors and stories of early Monterey Jazz Fest performances, the night embraced the spirit and 65-year legacy of Monterey Jazz Fest and its tradition of bringing the music of the festival to jazz audiences across the country.

Click HERE for tickets and tour-date information. DB



  • Herb_Alpert_-_Press_Photo_01_%28credit_Dewey_Nicks%29_copy.jpg

    “I like to just click on songs that touched me and see if I could do them in a personal way — especially if it’s a well-known song,” Alpert said about selecting material for his new album.

  • Les_McCann_by_C_Andrew_Hovan_copy.jpg

    McCann’s deep roots in gospel and the blues gave his music a gritty, earthy quality and a large supply of soulful licks.

  • 1_Black_Men_of_Labor_Second_Line_Parade_copy.jpg

    The Black Men of Labor Club leads a second line parade, from the documentary City of a Million Dreams.

  • image002_copy.jpg

    ​The Blue Note Quintet includes Gerald Clayton, Immanuel Wilkins, Joel Ross, Kendrick Scott and Matt Brewer. The all-star collective embarks on a North American tour this month.

  • 24_Emmet_Cohen_GABRIELAGABRIELAA_copy_2.JPG

    Emmet Cohen, right, with one of his heroes, Houston Person.