The 30th Dixieland Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay goes big.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The year 1980 saw some historic things happen: Pac-Man became an arcade phenomenon, The Empire Strikes Back broke box-office records, CNN was launched and the first Dixieland Monterey’s Jazz Bash by the Bay, originally held at the Fairgrounds, triggered an annual Peninsula tradition.
Hence, this year marks Dixieland Monterey’s 30-year anniversary and the three-day festival will feature more than 18 acts – visit www.dixieland-monterey.com for full schedule – celebrating the roots of traditional jazz, ragtime, swing and big band music.
For trombonist/composer Jackson Stock – whose band Taking Stock with Jackson will have its first of six performances of the weekend at 2:30pm on Friday in the Portola Room – playing the Jazz Bash will mean more than just another gig. Not only did Stock’s father, the late great trombonist “Papa” Jake Stock (and his band the Abalone Stompers) play the first Dixieland Monterey, this festival marks Stock’s DM debut as the leader of his own band.
About three months ago, DM asked Stock to put together a group. Stock jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve traveled all over and lived in other places but I’ve been a musician in this area my whole life,” Stock says. “It’s an opportunity to get good musicians together locally, plus one guy out of L.A.”
In the short three-month period, Stock was not only tasked with putting together a band, but choosing and arranging songs worthy of an almost-intimidating DM tradition.
“My responsibility is bringing what I think the product should be to the people and that includes getting musicians who can do that and also bring quality and authenticity,” Stock says. “The level of musicianship at these festivals is really great.”
Stock crafted a set-list with the precision of a watchmaker, including works by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and Eubie Blake, as well as original arrangements of pieces by Mozart and Tchaikovsky.
“I’ve played many of these melodies in the early days, in my dad’s band and when I was playing at places around town like the San Carlos Hotel,” Stock says. “So they mean something to me.”
That personal investment is fitting at an event that has lasted three decades by staying true to the music.
“Authenticity is what’s needed for a festival like this, because people heard melodies like this when they were 20 years old and they mean a lot to them.”
Titan Hot Seven, a longtime favorite of DM, kicks off the weekend of performances on Friday with an 11:30am performance in the De Anza Ballroom. The always-touring outfit of pranksters and merry men has played seven of the past 10 Jazz Bashes (and an unknown number beyond that). With a repertoire that includes jazz, swing, ballads and ragtime, TH7 has also been known to incorporate multicolored sprinklings of humor and banter in between songs. The septet’s eight albums – including the recent Linger Awhile – navigate many decades of traditional favorites and aren’t above an occasional novelty curveball like The Munster’s theme song.
TH7’s rendition of the teary-eyed “Tennessee Waltz,” once a favorite of Jerry Garcia, dances circles under a starry Southern night fueled by Flip Oaks’ trumpet and Bob Draga’s cordial clarinet.
It’s safe to predict that when TH7 knocks out the 12-bar, 80-year-old country blues tune “Corrina Corrina,” live foot stomping will become common. After the piano and guitar duke it out, the horns come on seamlessly, with a clarity and quality that would fit in just fine on the scarred blacktop of Bourbon Street.
In contrast to the multitude of musicians who have been playing for decades, DM will feature three bands of youngsters on Saturday in the Bonsai Room: North Monterey County High School Band, The Raisin Babies Jazz Band with the Fresno High School Warriors Jazz Band and Elk Grove’s Take 2.
The North Monterey County High School Band, under the direction of D.L. Johnson, is one of the few remaining band programs in the area. Last spring, the band traveled to China and played several concerts as part of its “Peace Through Music Program.”
Also on Saturday in the Bonsai Room, a youth clinic and evaluation will be held.
The encouragement and involvement of these young musicians is key to keeping this Bash by the Bay alive for another 30 years. Just ask Jackson Stock.