The Celebration grew out of the Jazz and Jazz Stories classes. This website was originally developed to support classes at California State University Monterey Bay including:
Jazz and the Brandenburg Concertos (2019);
Jazz and Jazz Stories (2019)
Jazz and Jazz Stories was originally put together as the website for classes I was teaching at CSUMB’s OLLI program in 2019. I had always planned on retiring fully on October 3, 2020, and wanted to share my love of music and musicians with the community. And the Monterey Jazz Festival was particularly important to me because it welcomed with open arms all parts of the community – race, gender, money are distant seconds to love of the music, the musicians, and the people sharing the day. Few institutions in Monterey have been as successful in attracting everybody. Also, I have various physical handicaps that make going to live music events, movies, etc. very difficult. I pay a price when I do it. The Monterey Jazz Festival was the one event I went to (or tried to) every year, and I so much enjoyed being with the people and listening to all that great music live. It has often been the only live music I see in a year.
And I love recording – I’ve lived in a recording studio, have done thousands of recordings, and have listened to countless records. But I have come to the conclusion that recorded and videotaped music has largely been a failure, because it has never captured the feelings, sounds and sights of live performance. I treasured my few days a year.
I’m retired now and no longer need this site to specifically support the classes I used to teach. I’m changing it to an information resource for people interested in Jazz and Jazz Stories. There are a lot of good ones I ran across over the last 67 years.
And we have been incredibly lucky to have access to the Monterey Jazz Festival archives, and dozens of the original tapes – of interviews by internationally known and respected jazz journalist Dan Ouellette – conducted for articles he was writing or Blindfold tests he conducted at major jazz festivals and Universities around the world. Some occurred during times of or about moments of monumental historic importance like the fall of Apartheid in South Africa (link to Abdullah Ibrahim interview).
I had met Dan through Bill Minor, another superb jazz journalist (and much more), and mutual friend. The Monterey Jazz Festival engaged me to produce some videos for the 2017 Festival. Dan and Bill both helped me a lot, and Dan allowed me to co-interview some of the artists, something we have continued to do. Those interviews can also be found at: Jazz Interviews – including the original tapes.
I have developed some favorites as much for who they are as the music they played: Thelonious Monk, John Clayton, Derrick Hodge, Ranganathan, Angelique Kidjo, B.B. King, Taj Mahal, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Bella Fleck, Chick Corea, J.S. Bach, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Pavarotti, Sones de Mexico, Eddie Sticks, Blackbyrd McNight, Tina Turner, San Jose Taiko, Abdullah Ibrahim, Willie Nelson, Gerald Wilson, Quincy Jones, Karl Richter and many more.
You’ll notice they are not all known as “Jazz Musicians.” I define jazz differently. For me “Jazz” is anything that was played at a major Jazz Festival. That includes, Country, Blues, Salsa, Mariachi, Classical, Bluegrass, South African, Malian, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Benin, French, Colombian, Israeli, Lebanese, Armenian, Russian and dozens of other kinds of music and musicians. In other words, for all practical purposes, EVERYTHING. It’s all one song to me.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Music Festival approaches its programming this way. I like it a lot.