WELCOME, AUTUMN: It's kind of a thing, right, that festivals that fall over the first week of fall -- or even over the first day of fall -- are filled with pumpkins and spiders and apples and such. But a fall festival should celebrate the season's mellower, warm-spirited qualities, and whether that's symbolized by changing leaves or a smooth solo played on a sax, well. We'll leave that choice up to the eye, and ear, of the beholder. Because the Monterey Jazz Festival is one of the great first-week-of-fall parties, and, nope, it doesn't have much to do with pumpkins, but it has been around for well over half a century. It is celebratory, full of heart, and a fine way to greet any season, but, yes, autumn especially. Ready to skip the foliage and simmer in flights of sound? Yeah, you are.
DATES AND DETAILS: The festival marks its 56th outing from Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Sept. 22 in, you guessed it, Monterey. The Monterey County Fairgrounds is the scene, and while we're tempted to list some of the headliners -- and so we shall -- know this: There are seven stages at the fairgrounds. Does that deserve all capital letters? Probably. SEVEN stages. Meaning this: Some 500 artists come to play and make beautiful notes that follow other beautiful notes. That's a lot of acts to choose from. Seven stages. Seven. That, by the way, is on the grounds. There are several more acts to catch in the arena.
SO... You'll need to schedule well if you want to catch Bobby McFerrin and Wayne Shorter and Diana Krall and George Benson and Bob James & David Sanborn. You'll also want to put a few up-and-comers on your list, too. The fest is so big and so venerable and so weighty that it incorporates both the long-established performers and those who will be playing year 65 and year 80 and year 90, even. We do love those return visits, and we like a good fall festival, even one that is all about the tunes and not about the pumpkins and leaves.