Video: Monterey Jazz Festival, 1975

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The 1970s was a transition period for jazz. Legends from the 1940s and '50s were still performing all over the place, but rock, soul and disco all took a toll on jazz greats' income and sense of direction. Aging artists weren't sure what to do to hold onto fans or how to reach new ones. They also weren't sure how to dress young—turning to maroon and burnt orange jackets, long hair, full beards, leisure suits and loud ties. Everything seemed to be rusting at once.

None of this, of course, compromised the musicianship. In 1975, at the Monterey Jazz Festival—which merged jazz, soul and blues in an effort fill seats—the lineup was stellar: Bill Evans, Paul Desmond, Marian McPartland, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis and others. When I viewed the following footage of the festival, the decade and its all of its confusing trends came rushing back, reminding me how tough it must have been for artists who had spent a lifetime perfecting their craft, only to find their value declining rapidly.

Here's a link to festival highlights, courtesy of Jimi Mentis in Athens. Dig Desmond's playing style, Gillespie's groove and Evans's attack...


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

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