The all-star affair was an evening devoted to music education, with all proceeds from the Gala going to support the Festival's Youth Education Programs, considered to be some of the most highly-regarded in the country.
160 jazz fans and patrons honored Brubeck with a standing ovation as the Mayor congratulated him on making more than fifty years of significant musical, social and cultural contributions, as he read from an official proclamation making the week of April 8, 2007 Dave Brubeck week" in Monterey.
Brubeck was instrumental in getting city approval for the first Festival in 1958. The founder and General Manager of MJF for 35 years, Jimmy Lyons, brought Brubeck to Monterey to perform for the city council to persuade them to allow the festival to occur. He has performed at the Festival 14 times since then, which includes his appearance at this year's upcoming 50th golden anniversary.
Also making a personal recollection, Clint Eastwood told the audience how he became a fan of Brubeck by going to the Burma Lounge in Oakland the 1940s, when he was an underage teenager. They have been friends for over 50 years. Eastwood is currently working on a documentary on Brubeck called In His Own Sweet Way" centering on the creation of the Cannery Row Suite." The film follows the development of the piece from inception to its debut at the 49th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September of 2006.
Tim Jackson, General Manager for the Festival, told the story of how he contacted Brubeck with the idea for the Commission piece linking Monterey, John Steinbeck and the Festival, resulting in the Cannery Row Suite." The capacity-filled room then witnessed an 8- minute clip of the performance, shot during last year's Festival; the footage will be included in the Eastwood documentary.
The 30-minute multi-media opera was a rousing success at the Festival, and was a musical tribute connecting jazz and the characters from Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck's 1945 book Cannery Row," which was drawn from Steinbeck's personal memories. With lyrics written by Iola Brubeck, Dave's wife and musical partner of 65 years, the Cannery Row Suite" will also be the focus of the 2007 Brubeck Festival in Stockton, California on Friday, April 13 where it will receive its second performance. The opera is a mixture of sea shanties, twelve-tone rows, jazz waltzes and ballads, making it one of Brubeck's signature pieces; it is a mixture of all types of modern music.
Patrons were treated to several other performances, including students from local high schools in the MJF's educational programs and the Jamie Davis Quintet, whose bluesy vocals and classic sound made the stately Gala seem like a raucous Saturday afternoon jazz and Blues party in the Arena at the Festival.
In addition, an auction of MJF memorabilia, special ticket packages and exclusive merchandise raised $30,000 for the Jazz Education Programs of the Festival.
In 2007, MJF will spend over $700,000 on programs that have a direct impact on the performance opportunities access to instruments and music and education for over 3000 students in Monterey County. These hands-on, cutting-edge educational components include the Traveling Clinician and Latin Jazz Programs, with professional musicians visiting Monterey County schools to teach students how to play and improvise in jazz and Latin styles; the Artist-In-Residence Program, which brings a leading jazz performer to work with students throughout the year; the MJF Summer Jazz Camp, the MJF Instrument and Sheet Music Library, the Next Generation Festival, the Monterey County High School All-Star-Band, the MJF Middle School Honor Band and MJF Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
In recent years, the Monterey Jazz Festival has been honored with the JazzTimes Readers' Poll Award for Best Festival for 2005 and 2006. Last year, the Monterey Jazz Festival ranked #18 on a list of the top 25 Bay Area non-profit arts organizations.