The 65th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Embraces Returning Jazz Greats with an Eye on Future Stars

Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates its 65th anniversary this fall with the return of some of the jazz world’s most iconic artists paying homage to the genre’s legends while keeping an eye toward diversity and showcasing new and wide-ranging sounds. Grammy winners and jazz giants Christine McBride, Gregory Porter, Dee Dee Bridewater, Chucho Valdés, and Kurt Elling are among the veterans performing at the festival which is set to take place September 23-25 at Monterey County Fairgrounds in beautiful Monterey, California.


Gregory Porter Publicity Photo

The festival’s returning stars have some historic collaborations in store for fans, including a Moodswing Reunion which pulls together original members saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade to celebrate the iconic 1994 Moodswing album. Other highlights include the debut of new ensemble Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kurt Elling on vocals, saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, MJF Artist-in-Residence and MJF on Tour director Christian Sands (piano), bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Clarence Penn; and Chucho Valdés, who will open the festival Friday with a rare performance of his magnum opus “La Creación” with the Yoruband Orchestra.


Moodswing Publicity Photo

Valdés leads a global contingent of up-and-comers including young Northern UK singer, bandleader, and DJ Emma-Jean Thackray; the NYC-based all female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache; the irrepressible Chicanos Las Cafeteras, whose genre-defying music inspires dancing and social change; and Japanese jazz artist Akira Tana’s Otonowa.


Chucho Valdés Publicity Photo. Credit: OCP Photography Miami

This year sees the Monterey Jazz Festival redoubling its focus on artists who will shape the future sound of jazz. The new generation of torch bearers includes Butcher Brown, who are steeped in musical history but blend jazz, funk, rap, Afrobeat, and soul to eschew tradition; trumpeter and star of a forthcoming Miles Davis biopic Keyon Harrold, who wields his instrument to fight against racial injustice; and harpist Brandee Younger, who carries the legacy of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane on her shoulders while pushing the harp into popular consciousness. Fans can also expect exceptional performances from prodigious guitarist Julian Lage, who will play with his Julian Lage Quartet, and “Good Vibes” vibraphonist-composer Joel Ross.


Butcher Brown

Equity is a powerful force on this year’s lineup with women’s contributions to jazz honored by a strong female presence including supergroup Artemis, which is comprised of pianist and musical director Renee Rosnes, clarinetist Anat Cohen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda, and drummer Allison Miller. The festival also showcases the extraordinary talents of singers Samara Joy and Emmaline, guitarist Molly Miller, and Bay Area icon Kim Nalley. There will also be appearances from the MJF Women in Jazz Combo, led by bassist, vocalist, and composer Katie Thiroux, and from the Berklee Jazz and Gender Justice Group.


Artemis Press Photo

The Monterey Jazz Festival’s 65-year-long commitment to education is highlighted by a number of artists who graduated through the festival’s program and are shaping the contemporary jazz landscape, perhaps none more so than the multiple Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton, whose album Water’s Edge dropped on Blue Note this month. Clayton participated in MJF’s Next Gen programs in 2000 and 2001 and is the director of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. All told, more than 20,000 students have come through the MJF Next Gen Jazz Orchestra program in its 50-plus-year history.


Tickets for The Monterey Jazz Festival are on sale now and can be purchased via the festival’s official website at or by calling 888-248-6499. For more information, click on the links below.


65th Monterey Jazz Festival









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