Join Monterey Jazz Festival Artistic Director Tim Jackson as he reflects with bassist, conductor, and composer John Clayton on his 2017 Monterey Jazz Festival commission piece “Stories of a Groove: Conception, Evolution, Celebration.” The piece features the Gerald Clayton Trio as a soloing unit within the 19-piece Clayton-Hamilton Big Band. “A major work was born on the Lyons stage that evening, a 40-minute MJF-commissioned world premiere by John Clayton…Stories of a Groove…You didn’t have to read any specific political details into the piece in order to sense the passion in its marching party grooves or marvel how its complex, diverse structure held together.” —Classical Voice North America
Maria Schneider premiered her second Monterey Jazz Festival commission in 2008. “Willow Lake,” performed by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, evokes the big sky mystery of her native Minnesota. “The Maria Schneider Big Band… really is a jazz orchestra, playing original music that is lush and lyrical, luminous and densely layered, but with room for soloists to stretch out” - Minnesota Post.
Join MJF Artistic Director Tim Jackson as he remembers “Willow Lake” with "one of the premiere composers of our time in the jazz realm or even any realm."
The Monterey Jazz Festival 2010 commission piece features two monstrously innovative quartets. “Music for Two Quartets,” composed by Billy Childs, brought together the Billy Childs Quartet and the Kronos Quartet in a musical duet between jazz and classical. Join Monterey Jazz Festival Artistic Director Tim Jackson in conversation with Billy Childs as they unpack this composition that found the sweet spot of jazz chamber music at the 53rd Monterey Jazz Festival.
In 2012, the Monterey Jazz Festival's Commission is envisioned by guitarist Bill Frisell, based on his residency at the Big Sur Land Trust's Glen Deven Ranch and is the first instance of collaboration between the two nonprofits to create a site-specific musical composition.
"I've noticed place affects the understanding of the music—things get deeper, it's not just abstract notes on a page. No matter how you try to analyze it, or whatever I write down, surprising things start to happen live. It begins to lift off in ways that nobody imagined. That's my preferred state—to just be in the music and let it do whatever it wants" – Bill Frisell
There have been many pieces written for the Monterey Jazz Festival over the years, but Monterey Encounter (A Latin Jazz Suite for Flute) is the first Salsa commission in the MJF's history. Written by composer and pianist Oscar Hernandez, it was debuted by his Grammy winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra with special guest Hubert Laws. This vivid music, born out of the merging of Cuban, Puerto Rican and New York City Latin communities in the 20th century, has become a touchstone for how cultures can absorb, change and grow traditional sounds.
Check out Episode 5 of Evolution of a Groove for a behind-the-scenes conversation between Artistic Director Tim Jackson and one of the most gift pianists/arrangers of Latin jazz, Oscar Hernandez.
Evolution of a Groove: the Monterey Commissions will take the viewer behind the scenes and into the archives of jazz history and the creative process. These commission pieces, most of which have not been seen since the original performances, will be available as a paid membership. Think of it as a virtual video library card for MJF Super Fans. The episodes can be purchased separately or all twelve episodes for a yearly subscription fee. Each video has a release date and then is available for viewing throughout 2021 via your personal link to a private YouTube playlist.
The Monterey Jazz Festival has a 63-year legacy of presenting and producing the biggest names in jazz. Since the beginning, many artists wrote music to be debuted at the Festival—both officially and unofficially—but the modern Commission Artist Program was inaugurated by Artistic Director Tim Jackson in 1994 and continues through today.
Each episode is hosted by the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director Tim Jackson and will include one-on-one interviews with each commissioned artist, discussing their inspiration for the piece, and their memories of the compositional process. The original debut of each piece will be included in its entirety – many of this archival footage has not been seen since the original performance at Monterey.
In 2018, the jazz word suffered a great loss with the death of trumpeter Roy Hargrove at age 49. Artistic Director Tim Jackson called upon Roy’s contemporary master musician and friend, Christian McBride, to eulogize Hargrove in the MJF62 commission piece, “Roy Hargrove: The Fearless One.” Known for its ability to embrace traditional and non-traditional expressions of jazz, the 2019 commission piece is performed by the Christian McBride big band and features the young up and coming bass player, and Next Generation Jazz Orchestra alumna, Kanoa Mendenhall.
Episode 8 features Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin as they reflect on the 1999 Monterey Jazz Festival commission: Tribute to Duke Ellington. Performed by the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra and featuring Lew Tabackin.
Aaron Diehl’s 2014 commission piece, Three Streams of Expression, was dedicated to John Lewis, and contained the blues and Bach style that the Modern Jazz Quartet made famous.
The 20-minute work "provides a kind of narrative of the development of the MJQ and John Lewis' approach to composition," Diehl says. "Early on, with Ray Brown and Kenny Clarke, the music was very much in the bebop tradition, coming out of Dizzy. Then it slowly developed into a more chamber-like sound; The piece explores the zone where composition and improvisation meet and you're not sure where one ends and the other begins.”
Join Tim Jackson and Aaron Diehl as they reflect on the 2014 commission piece, John Lewis, and more for the 9th Episode of “Evolution of a Groove: The Monterey Commissions”
"Cannery Row Suite" is a multi-media piece commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2006. Co-created with Brubeck's longtime spouse and collaborator, Iola (Whitlock) Brubeck, this musical morphing of the Row has regional resonances that extend beyond Brubeck's love of Steinbeck's novel, Cannery Row.
Join Tim Jackson, and Dave's son Chris Brubeck, as they remember the 2006 commission piece that was joy-filled from creation through to the premiere performance.
Maria Schneider was commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1995. Her piece "Scenes from Childhood" reflect the childhood moods that left a long standing impact on Maria's work. The second ever commission from the modern MJF commissioning program, "Scenes from Childhood" is a surreal and haunting piece not to be missed.