Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay: Old Favorites and New Sensations

The Central Coast will be swinging again during the 44th Annual Jazz Bash by the Bay in Monterey, CA! This year’s event focuses on Hot Jazz of all styles, as well as Blues, Ragtime, Swing and Cajun/Zydeco, promising to be bigger and better than ever before. With over 150 hours of music performed by more than 130 musicians in eight venues in ONE location, the beautiful and comfortable Portola Hotel and Monterey Conference Center will once again host this fabulous party. From 11:30 Friday morning through 4:30 Sunday afternoon, 24 bands and 21 featured artists will offer a first-class stew of American Pop Music from the 1890s-1940s, with a sprinkling of originals to spice things up.

In addition to the festival proper, the Monterey Jazz Bash provides special Thursday night festivities for those fans arriving early. The two events are timed so people can enjoy both, but tickets are available for a single session as well. This year, the legendary trio We 3 (Bob Draga, Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots) makes a rare appearance from 7:00-8:15 in the Bonsai Room, followed in the DeAnza Ballroom by the inaugural CA appearance of the Midwest’s Premier Hot Jazz Orchestra, the Graystone Monarchs. Led by internationally renowned percussionist Josh Duffee, this band of All-Stars will perform Hot Jazz from the 1920-’30s during two one hour sets from 8:30-10:45. Hear, and dance to, the music JUST as it was performed in the original days!

Firm favorites such as Blue Street, the Sonny Leyland Trio, Sierra Stompers, and Tom Rigney and Flambeau will be joined by fabulous groups making their debut this year, including Brass Nickels, San Lyon, Seattle Trad and the Dawn Lambeth Sextet. Storming the stage after too long an absence will be the incredible trio Tom Hook and the Terrier Bros as well as the ragtime phenom The Crown Syncopators. While there are too many bands to list in this small space, the list of featured artists is sure to impress. Internationally celebrated piano duo Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi return, while longtime friends Dan Barrett, Clint and Riley Baker, Eddie Erickson, Dave Stuckey, Hal Smith, and Andy Schumm share the stage with newcomers to Monterey, namely Dave Bennett and T.J. Müller. The happiest musician in the land, Steve Pikal, is the Musician of the Year and will light up the scene with his energy and virtuosity.

Sunday’s 75-minute finale will be like nothing you’ve ever seen or heard, as the juggernaut band, and festival circuit favorite, the Sierra Stompers invites Dan Barrett, Dave Bennett, Andy Schumm, John Otto, and Dave Stuckey in the sure-to-be-packed DeAnza Ballroom!!

Say you’d rather not sit and listen, but dance the night away? Jazz Bash has you covered with dance floors in five of the eight venues, including double dance floors on either side of the bandstand in the largest venue, the DeAnza ballroom! When you’d like to take a break from the music for other forms of sustenance, the hotel bar Jack’s Lounge is waiting to slake your thirst while food is available at both Jack’s and Peter B’s around the corner. Mere blocks away, you’ll find cuisine from many lands, while the famous Monterey Pier offers the best and freshest seafood found anywhere in the world.

While the festival highlights the incomparable talents of top jazz musicians from around the world, there’s plenty of time to cheer enthusiastic amateurs (or join in) at Friday night’s Jam Cabaret and then swing over the next morning to catch the Festival Youth Band sets showcasing the next generation’s possible stars.

The opulent rooms at the Portola Plaza Hotel are not the only housing options. The Marriott is across the street, and a few blocks up Munras Ave. you’ll find popular hotel chains to fit any taste and budget. Speaking of budget, an all-events badge (excluding Thursday’s shows) costs only $125, with single-day badges available from $50-75. Those who wish to support the festival more significantly are invited to investigate Patron and Sponsor options.

No matter how you choose to experience the Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay, this will be the event you’ll talk about for the rest of the year. Be sure to visit the festival website for updates and information about the bands, featured musicians, and amenities at the venues:

Write Jeff Barnhart at [email protected] and visit his website

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Jeff Barnhart is an internationally renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, ASCAP composer, educator and entertainer. Visit him online Email: [email protected]

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