MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL FEATURES CARLA BLEY, CELEBRATES WOMEN IN JAZZ SEPT. 16-18 :: eJazzNews.com : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net :: Jazz News Daily MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL FEATURES CARLA BLEY, CELEBRATES WOMEN IN JAZZ SEPT. 16-18
Posted by: eJazzNews Readeron Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 07:30 PM
Jazz Festivals August 11, 2005; Monterey, CA; Billie Holiday, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland, Alice Coltrane – jazz history is filled with the contributions of exceptional women musicians and composers. The Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to continue its role celebrating women in jazz through this year’s MJF Commission Artist program, the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, and year-round jazz education programs.
The Monterey Jazz Festival has selected noted pianist Carla Bley as this year’s MJF Commission Artist. Her MJF commissioned piece, “The Black Orchid,” will have its world premiere on the Main Arena Lyons Stage at the 48th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival presented by MCI September 16-18.
According to jazz critic Chris Kelsey, “Post-bop jazz has produced only a few first-rate composers of larger forms; Carla Bley ranks high amongst them.” Born in Oakland, California, Bley learned music from her church musician father before moving to New York around 1955 at age 19. She supported herself as a cigarette girl at jazz clubs such as Birdland and Basin Street and soon thereafter married pianist Paul Bley. She began composing while working as an usherette and check coat girl until George Russell, Jimmy Guiffre, and Art Farmer began recording her pieces.
Since forming the Jazz Composers’ Orchestra in 1964 and the Jazz Composers Orchestra Association in 1966, Bley has become ubiquitous for compositions recorded by Gary Burton and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, plus her own recordings on the Watt/ECM label ranging from piano-bass duos to the “Very Big Carla Bley Band.”
As the MJF Commission Artist, Carla Bley returns to Monterey to showcase her music to new audiences. Her commission piece, “The Black Orchid,” commemorates her time spent living in Pacific Grove, California in the early 1950’s, when she drove an Model-A automobile to play solo piano at the now-defunct Black Orchid Club in Monterey. The commission piece illustrates the progress that Bley has made as an artist over the past five decades, as well as greater recognition women have received for their contributions to instrumental jazz.
Carla Bley is just one of the many female artists performing at this year’s 48th annual Monterey Jazz Festival presented by MCI. Fellow Pianist Patrice Rushen – a former member of the MJF High School All-Star Band – will perform with Lee Ritenour and the Christian McBride Band throughout the festival weekend. Mavis Staples, Madeleine Peyroux, Claudia Acuña, Sharon Jones, Ledisi, Sheila Jordan, Clairdee, Natasha Miller, Jacqui Naylor, Claudia Villela, Destani Wolf and Valerie Joi Fiddmont are all scheduled to appear on Monterey’s stages performing a wide range of jazz styles from straight-ahead standards and scat vocalese to Latin, South American, funk, gospel, soul, and blues.
The Monterey Jazz Festival also promotes women in jazz by promoting girls in jazz. Through the Monterey Jazz Festival’s commitment to women and jazz education, there will be not only be greater opportunities available for established musicians like Carla Bley to shine, but also many more ambitious young women in jazz on the way. Every year, the Monterey Jazz Festival teaches hundreds of female students through its jazz education programs. In addition to the MJF Traveling Clinicians Program – which sends professional music educators to local schools - the Monterey Jazz Festival provided roughly $22,500 in scholarships to 45 Monterey County female music students to attend the MJF Summer Jazz Camp, June 21-30 at Monterey Peninsula College. These talented young women represented roughly 1/3 of the camp students population, and many enjoyed studying with renowned saxophonist, educator and recording artist Virginia Mayhew amongst other instructors including MJF Artist-in-Residence Branford Marsalis.
Partners play an important role in helping the Festival fund its Jazz Education Programs, efforts led by Presenting Partner, MCI, marking their 21st year with the Monterey Jazz Festival. Over the years, MCI has contributed over $2,000,000 to the Festival's educational efforts. Starbucks Coffee is hosting the Coffee House Gallery for the second year in a row. In addition to making a generous contribution to the Festival, Starbucks will once again be donating proceeds from its Festival coffee sales during the weekend to the MJF's Jazz Education Programs. Also returning for 2005 are Microsoft, continuing to offer selected Lyons Stage performances, available for download on msn.music.com, in addition to soon-to-be-released archival music from the Festival's recorded history. Yamaha, friend of the Festival and its Jazz Education Programs since the earliest days, also returns as a valued partner for Monterey, providing instruments to the Festival and to its year-round education endeavors. Joining as a new Festival partner this year is JetBlue Airways, flying MJF artists across country for their performances, as well as the San Jose Mercury News as a media partner.
The Monterey Jazz Festival's jazz presentation and jazz education programs are also made possible in part through the generous support of several exceptional grantors. The Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to thank the National Endowment for the Arts for its support of the 48th annual Monterey Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival Commissioned Artist Program, and the Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-in-Residence Program. The Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to thank the NEA/Jazz Masters on Tour Program, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts sponsored by Verizon in partnership with Arts Midwest, with additional support provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through a grant to Chamber Music America. The Monterey Jazz Festival is also proud to thank the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for its long-time support of the annual Monterey Jazz Festival and its year-round jazz education programs. The Festival thanks many other generous grantors and individuals who support MJF year-round youth jazz education programs.
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