This is the third year I’ve hit The Monterey Jazz Festival and every year it gets better! The International Jazz Safari To California included JAZZ.FM91 President and CEO Ross Porter, promo director Jess Frohman and thirty generous donors.
We began our adventure in San Francisco and spent a few days being tourists. I brought about twenty people to China Town the minute we arrived and we feasted beautifully…even better was the teeny bill…$20 each including booze?!?
My pal Janet T. Planet came up from L.A. to hang with me a couple days and one afternoon we had a nice long hang with my buddy Paul Myers who recently became a duo citizen.
I did a little sight-seeing and shopping and the following day hosted a tour of some wineries including Wente and Black Stallion.
As always, guests of The Jazz Safari hit Tonga Room (the worlds oldest and largest Tiki bar) and Yoshi’s for Jose James.
After a few days in San Francisco we headed for the Monterey Jazz Festival. Seeing Herbie Hancock was a sweet treat. We were talking and everyone kept snapping pics so I finally said “I guess I should get a photo too, huh?” He was so down to earth – like most jazz greats – and later introduced me to 80 year old jazz legend Wayne Shorter. Wayne said “there’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen – everybody put something in and make something beautiful!” Gregory Porter and his awesome band played songs over the private dinner and I saw him twice the following night, making me a SuperFan I suppose. If you don’t know Gregory Porter check him out! He’s going to have a long career no doubt – as he crosses over to soul/gospel/blues/pop, while remaining a true jazz singer as well.
What a great guy and every member of his band got to show-off their chops in the third show at Dizzy’s Den.
Joe Lovano was holding court several times during the festival and was very groovy indeed.
I got to hang with Dr. Lonnie Smith the great B3 wizard who told me he once lived on Maitland Street in Toronto and said “beautiful people live there – it’s freaky but I love it” and followed with “now I live in Florida…it’s really dull compared to Toronto!”
I also got to have a couple drinks with Don Was who is charming and sincere. I first knew him from “Walk The Dinosaur” and then followed his career as a brilliant producer…from B52’s “Love Shack” to a bunch of Rolling Stones recordings, and beyond. I was so happy to hear he is working with Sweet Pea Atkinson again and he showed interest in coming to Toronto to check out the jazz scene. As the new president of Blue Note Records in NYC, I hope he takes me up on my offer to play tour guide!
There is no way I can pick a favourite concert but aside from the people I’ve already mentioned, seeing Lou Donaldson twice was something I’ll never forget. At 87 the guy can still play a wicked solo, sing a hilarious blues tune and make an audience stand up after almost every tune.
This was a phenomenal experience and everyone on the JAZZ.FM91 Jazz Safari agreed it was money and time well spent!