Follow us:

Soundposts

A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

September 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Monterey Jazz Festival sizzles

IMG1202The Monterey Jazz Festival got off to a sizzling start Friday at the outdoor main arena, the Jimmy Lyons Stage, with an upbeat show that included the dulcet baritone of new jazz singing star Gregory Porter and — surprisingly, after all these years — the Buena Vista Social Club, the great Cuban touring group.

Porter, dressed in a white sport jacket andtrademark tight cap with earflaps, joshed with the crowd about his Bakersfield, Calif. background — like being from Tacoma, in Wash. — and told them they’d all driven through that hot central valley town on their way to L.A., so just get over their snobbery. Then he showed his keen facility for language — which comes out so sweetly in his songs — with an off-the-cuff remark: “But that’s neither here nor there,” he added, “Actually, it’s both here and there!”

Porter sang exquisitely, dipping into the repertoire on his excellent new album, “Liquid Spirit,” offering the title track, “Hey Laura” and “No Love Dying.” Though he’s only recently been”discovered,” Porter showed himself to be a veteran, with his relaxed yet commanding stage presence.

Bassist John Clayton, who curates the Port Townsend and Lionel Hampton jazz festivals in our neck of the woods, brought his Clayton-Hamilton big band to the stage for a tribute to Dave Brubeck, who died last year. The show included a piece Clayton conducted energetically, as a recording of Louis Armstrong played. Armstrong sang at the Monterey jazz Festival in Brubeck’s operetta “The Real Ambassadors,” years ago.

I thought I — and the jazz crowd generally — had had enough of the Buena Vista Social Club to last a lifetime, but in fact, their  gently percolating Cuban traditional music was scintillating. The group featured the great, black-hatted singer Eliades Ochoa, vocalist Omara Portuondo (whose voice was somewhat the worse for wear) and (guitar-like) laud master Barbarito Torres.

When the group, 14-strong, launched into its hit, “Chan Chan,” the audience went wild, dancing in the aisles and brought the band back for an encore.

More when I get home. Monterey Bay is silky blue this morning below the sky and I’m taking a walk past Lover’s Point to get some coffee.

 

 

Comments | More in Festivals, Jazz | Topics: Buena Vista Social Club, Gregory Porter, Monterey Jazz Festival

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►