Album Reviews

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Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars

2008-03-10

The Monterey Jazz Festival is the most revered musical celebrations in American history. Stars from Thelonious Monk, Freddie Hubbard and Duke Ellington graced the festival with their jazz orations and the festival brought out other acts, such as Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sly and the Family Stone and Roberta Flack, not to mention the perennial favorite, Dizzy Gillespie. So, it was with much anticipation that I opened the 50th Anniversary All-Stars legacy album. As I popped the record in for its first listen, I was excited to see the All-Stars on a spring tour supporting the festival's main cause of raising money for music education. The liner notes laud the band; be-bop jazz saxophonist and Gillespie-vet James Moody, Monterey vet and former member of the festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra Benny Green also on sax, Grammy award winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and a strong supporting cast featuring veteran vocalist Nnenna Freelon. But unfortunately, that's about as exciting as the album gets. The effort falls notably flat given the prestige of the 50th anniversary of this esteemed festival. Perhaps it was the genre choice, with the band riffing on Duke Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me", which does not particularly fit my jazz tastes, but for a legacy album, the expectations here were not met. In a word, it was boring. - Daniel J. Graeber

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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