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Benny Green made his Monterey debut in 1978 at age 15 as pianist with the Next Generation Orchestra. (Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)

They Drive At 55: The Monterey Jazz Anniversary Tour

by Mark Schramm
Sep 12, 2013 (WBGO-FM)

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Bassist Christian McBride is the artistic director of the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour. Here he is in a rehearsal for the Kennedy Center gig. Dee Dee Bridgewater (left) first performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1973. Lewis Nash in rehearsal at the Kennedy Center. Christian McBride in rehearsal at the Kennedy Center.

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Mark Schramm

In September 2012, the Monterey Jazz Festival celebrated 55 years. The late Dave Brubeck was among the founders of the Monterey Jazz Festival. Dizzy Gillespie made many an appearance. Charles Mingus and Charles Lloyd recorded landmark albums. Jon Hendricks staged a history of jazz here. Monterey has commissioned works by Cedar Walton, Roy Hargrove, Billy Childs and many others.

In 1983, JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgewater first performed at Monterey with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. She sang Jones' "A Child is Born" then and now, on this episode. Benny Green made his Monterey debut in 1978 at age 15 as pianist with the Next Generation Orchestra. Green played with the Ray Brown Trio in 1994; from that set, JazzSet aired a two-bass duet, "Bye Bye Blackbird," with Brown and then-newcomer Christian McBride. (Yes, we have been your outlet for Monterey Jazz music for 20 years running.) In 2008, McBride served as artist in residence.

This week on JazzSet, Bridgewater, Green and McBride are three of six in Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, traveling by bus to dozens of theaters and having a great time. Already they had been out for the month of January, for a short stretch in late March, detained by snow in Kansas City. They sang this concert at the Kennedy Center, took a break, and they went back on the road in April.

After a show at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, Shaun Brady wrote in The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The lively, profoundly swinging rhythm section was the key to the group's buoyant sound, with McBride's stunning, fleet-fingered bass matched by Lewis Nash's delectably on-target drumming and the Oscar Peterson-inspired flurries of pianist Benny Green." On JazzSet, these three play alone on Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga."

All the music has been part of the repertoire over 55 Monterey Jazz Festivals.


  • Christian McBride, musical director and bass
  • Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocals
  • Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet
  • Chris Potter, tenor saxophone
  • Benny Green, piano
  • Lewis Nash, drums

Set List

  • "I'm Beginning to See the Light" (Duke Ellington) - duet by Bridgewater and McBride
  • "All of Me" (G. Marks and S. Simon)
  • "Shade of the Cedar Tree" (McBride)
  • "Salome's Dance (excerpt)" (Potter)
  • "Tanga" (Dizzy Gillespie) - Green, McBride and Nash only
  • "A Child is Born" (Thad Jones)
  • "Certainly" (Green)
  • "Filthy McNasty" (Horace Silver)


Thanks to Tim Jackson, Artistic Director of the MJF on Tour. Kevin Struthers is Director of Jazz at the Kennedy Center. Photos from the sound check are by Jeffrey Kliman. Recording engineers are Greg Hartman and Duke Markos; surround sound mix by Duke Markos. Script by Mark Schramm.

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