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Night Lights Classic Jazz

Live From Monterey: Louis, Miles, Dizzy, Joe and More

The Monterey Jazz Festival is coming up on its 50th anniversary, and I’m assuming that’s why a series of CDs featuring performances by Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, Sarah Vaughan, and others is coming out next week.

I’m listening today to a highlights promo that the station received, and so far it’s prime stuff. I’ve always dug the Seven Steps to Heaven/Four and More era of Miles Davis, and this was actually the debut of the Hancock/Carter/Williams lineup. A “Miles ’63” show has got to happen soon…and oh man, George Coleman’s solo on “Autumn Leaves” is full of warm and gorgeous October light. (George Coleman–there’s another program.)

Then there’s the Man himself, floating in to cap things off with a plaintive run that culminates in a repeated single-note burst and a sudden leap at the end.

The Thelonious Monk Quartet spins off an energized “Rhythm-a-Ning” (with a 23-year-old Steve Swallow sitting in on bass), Jimmy Witherspoon serves up “S.K. Blues”–a reminder that this was an era when a jazz festival meant a jazz festival, leavened with some blues and nothing else–Dave Brubeck comes to life on “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” Sarah Vaughan takes Lennon and McCartney for a ride on “And I Love Him” (showing that yes, Beatles tunes can be done well in a jazz setting) and Joe Henderson sashays through “Isotope” with a quartet that includes Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and Elvin Jones on drums.

The Diana Krall side is a bit of a weak link, simply because the song “Why Should I Care” pretty much lives up (or down) to its title. Can’t wait to check out the full-length CDs of these concerts… out August 21.

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