One enchanted, Festival-spawned evening
This year’s “Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour” group, in the 10th anniversary of the program, is a gender-balanced group featuring acclaimed vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. The tour stops at Campbell Hall on Monday.
Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: UCSB Campbell Hall
Tickets are $25-38 general, UCSB students $15.
Information: 893-3535, https://artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu
Santa Barbara has an intimate and slightly complicated relationship with the Monterey Jazz Festival. The great festival, considered by many the “best on the West Coast,” is also the world’s oldest continuously running jazz festival, launched in 1958, and is the world-class jazz festival closest to Santa Barbara. It’s a drivable and very doable event each third weekend of September.
The commute is considerably closer on the occasions when the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour project steers through Santa Barbara, as it has in the past. On Monday at Campbell Hall, as part of the UCSB Arts & Lectures program, the latest incarnation of this festival-organized collection of respected current jazz heroes (and heroines, especially this year) brings the tour to town, in a must-see event on this season’s local jazz calendar.
Last September, the new aggregation took the main arena stage of the Monterey Fairgrounds and impressed us, individually and as a collective. The instant karmic connection between vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, trumpeter-vocalist Bria Skonberg, Chilean-born tenor saxist-deserving-wider-recognition Melissa Aldana, pianist/music director Christian Sands, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Jamison Ross made for some beautiful music together.
On that night, the group seemed particularly inspired, as the festival’s 60th anniversary package, and with a gender-balanced ensemble on a festival program celebrating “the year of the woman” in jazz. Now, as part of the now decade-old “Monterey Festival on Tour” program, they take their more deeply honed sound on the road, and to UCSB.
In terms of public and critical acclaim and status in the jazz world, the starring force in this grouping is the stunning and versatile vocalist Ms. Salvant. Luckily for the Santa Barbara jazz (and general music fan) contingent, she is no stranger to Campbell Hall, having performed there with her own group and as special guest with pianist Aaron Diehl’s tribute project to Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin, in 2017.
Over time, the MJF on Tour project has ushered many prominent jazz musicians through Santa Barbara. The 2016 group boasted trumpet great Nichola Payton and tenor saxist Ravi Coltrane, and singer-guitarist Raul Midon, while the 2013 visit brought out a powerhouse group including musicians at the top of their respective musical fields — trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, tenor saxist Chris Potter and bassist Christian McBride.
On to the 2019 edition. Longtime Monterey Jazz Festival director Tim Jackson asserts that “this will be the 10-year anniversary of MJF on Tour and it is also one of our most exciting. With a strong female presence on the front line with Cecile, Melissa and Bria, and the mastery of Christian Sands as our pianist and musical director, we are looking forward to spreading the joy of jazz, which is the essence of the Monterey Jazz Festival, to the rest of the country.”