TRAVERSE CITY — The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour comes to Traverse City next week to celebrate its 55th anniversary, with a little help from Elk Rapids Zero Hour Jazz Lab students, who will open the performance at the City Opera House.
“It is our third national tour since our 50th anniversary and something we do every couple of years because we can’t go everywhere and people can’t come to Monterey,” said Tim Jackson, artistic director of the tour. “We want to broaden our reach.”
The 46-city tour started in Santa Cruz Jan. 10 and will end there April 30.
Music director is renowned bassist Christian McBride, who won his third Grammy in January. Dee Dee Bridgewater is the vocalist. She has two Grammy awards as well as a Tony award for her portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch in “The Wiz,” a Broadway musical. She also is host of National Public Radio Jazzset.
Other musicians include: Oscar Peterson protégé Benny Green on piano; saxophonist Chris Potter; drummer Lewis Nash, who has one of the longest discographies in jazz today with performances on more than 400 albums; and Ambrose Akinmusire, who Santa Barbara Independent reviewer called “everyone’s favorite trumpeter wunderkind.”
Akinmusire, 30, was a member of the 1999 and 2000 Monterey Jazz Festival High School All-Star Band. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in the span of one week in 2007 after earning his master’s degree in music from UCLA.
All six are renowned jazz musicians who exemplify the spirit and ideas of the Monterey Jazz Festival, Jackson said.
“We are a festival,” he said. “We want to have serious fun. We put music and the quality of the musician first. We want to make sure the music reaches people’s spirits, touches their hearts and makes them feel something.”