Building on the exciting and unprecedented legacy of 50 years of historic jazz presentation, the Monterey Jazz Festival announced its nationwide, 10-week, 54-date tour of the Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary Band in November.

Heralded as a meeting of three generations of jazz masters, the MJF 50th Anniversary Band showcases the leaders of the past, present and future with Terence Blanchard on trumpet, James Moody on saxophone, musical director Benny Green on piano, Derrick Hodge on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums. Vocalist Nnenna Freelon is also featured on the tour, which started this month.

Each member of the 50th Anniversary Band has a special relationship with the Monterey Jazz Festival, and has a commitment to the Festival and the cultivation of jazz audiences worldwide. Saxophonist James Moody made his first appearance at MJF in the early 1960s with Dizzy Gillespie; Benny Green participated in MJF’s educational programs as a teenager in the 1970s; Terence Blanchard was MJF’s Artist-In-Residence in 2007; Nnenna Freelon has been performing at MJF since the mid 1990s; Kendrick Scott was a three-time member of the Berklee-Monterey Quartet from 1999-2002, and Derrick Hodge has been a member of Terence Blanchard’s bands that have performed at Monterey.

"We wanted to create a lasting legacy for our 50th anniversary,” says Monterey Jazz Festival General Manager Tim Jackson. “To kick it off, we've assembled some of the masters of jazz who have a close relationship with the Festival to carry the MJF name across America. We've had all-star groups who have performed at Monterey in the past, but they've never gone on a multiple-week tour in the U.S., so this is an historic occasion for us. All the members represent the spirit and educational enthusiasm of the Monterey Jazz Festival that we'd like to present to the country ... plus they're an incredible band, they were mesmerizing at the 50th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2007. They embody the past, present and future of jazz history."

About the band

• Trumpeter Terence Blanchard, a leading musician of his generation, won the 2005 Grammy Award for “Best Jazz Album,” and was nominated for four other Grammys and for the Grand Prix du Disque. Blanchard has written over 40 film scores, including Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Inside Man, and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. His compositions have received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Blanchard was chosen by the Monterey Jazz Festival to be its 2007 Artist-In-Residence, and performed extensively at MJF/50 in September, where his band premiered A Tale of God’s Will: A Requiem for Katrina.

• Vocalist Nnenna Freelon is a six-time Grammy Award-nominee, her latest with the 2005 release Blueprint of a Lady: Sketches of Billie Holiday on the Concord label. Nnenna is the winner of the Eubie Blake Award, and was twice nominated for the “Lady of Soul” Soul Train Award. Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times wrote of her that “there is no doubt that Freelon has now positioned herself in the very top echelon.”

• At the age of twenty-four, pianist Benny Green became a key member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and has played with such artists as Freddie Hubbard, Ray Brown, and Oscar Peterson. In 1993, Peterson chose him as the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glenn Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. Green started his association with MJF as part of the Monterey Jazz Festival High School All-Star Big Band in the 1970s.

• Bassist Derrick Hodge first came to acclaim by winning the Berklee College of Music’s Outstanding Soloist Award in 1996 and 1997. He has gone on to perform and record with numerous artists including Terence Blanchard, Mulgrew Miller, Kanye West, Clark Terry, Freddy Cole, and many others. Also a composer, he has written for artists such as Terence Blanchard and Q-Tip.

• One of the true jazz legends, versatile reedman James Moody has been sharing his musical genius with audiences for over five decades. In the mid-’40s, he joined the seminal bebop big band of Dizzy Gillespie; in the mid-‘50s, he had a huge hit with “Moody’s Mood for Love” and in 1998, he received the Jazz Master Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Moody will be Grand Master of the show, and has been performing at MJF since the early 1960s.

• Drummer Kendrick Scott began his relationship with MJF playing with the Berklee/Monterey Quartet, and has gone on to perform with such artists as Terence Blanchard, Kenny Garrett, Stefon Harris, and Joe Lovano. He received the 1999 Clifford Brown/Stan Getz fellowships from IAJE and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. He released his debut CD, The Source, in 2007.

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