Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour comes to town Friday

The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, with, from left, Chris Potter, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lewis Nash, Benny Green and Ambrose Akinmusire, comes to the Phillips Center on Friday. (Courtesy of the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour)

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:58 a.m.

Jazz fans have traversed the country since 1958 to attend the world’s longest-running jazz festival in Monterey, Calif. This year, fans have only to visit their local concert halls, as the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour 55th Anniversary Celebration will bring the tunes to them.


Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour

What: All-star group of musicians tours in celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road
Tickets: $25-$35, $10 for UF students
Info: 392-2787,

The tour, which is playing 40 cities in 23 states, stops in Gainesville’s own Phillips Center on Friday. It features a group of Grammy-winning jazz artists including vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, musical director and bassist Christian McBride, pianist Benny Green, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonist Chris Potter and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.

Bridgewater first performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1973 with the Thad Jones/Mel Louis Big Band. She says the goal of the tour is one of spreading awareness for the festival and the music it showcases.

“We’re trying to give the audience a sense of the beauty of this festival and our love of jazz,” she says about the namesake event.

Audiences Friday will be treated to full band performances, as well as solos and small group arrangements, of both original compositions from the band and jazz standards from the likes of Holiday, Count Basie and Horace Silver.

The Monterey Jazz Festival has long served as a gathering place for the top names in jazz. In the first four years of the festival alone, legends such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane all performed. Those years were followed by lineups that included Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and even Muddy Waters.

The festival has a long-standing tradition of assembling all-star bands dating back to 1966. This year’s touring all-star band features six veteran jazz musicians including pianist Green, who performed his first of eight Monterey shows at the age of 15.

Bridgewater, winner of three Grammys and a Tony Award for her performance as Glinda the Good Witch in “The Wiz” on Broadway, recorded pop and disco music in the 1970s, but she says her heart belongs to jazz.

“It’s the purest musical form I know,” she says. “I love the interactions between the musicians. I love that we can reinvent a song each time we do it. All of these different instruments collectively make one beautiful sound. It’s a very magical experience.”

Bridgewater says she hopes audiences leave with a desire to attend the festival in Monterey in September.

“I can promise them 200 percent that they’ll leave with smiles on their faces, and they’ll leave thinking, ‘Maybe we should go to California and check out this Monterey Jazz Festival.’”

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