Set amid the 22 mossy, oak-covered acres of the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the Monterey Jazz Festival can feel like a forest escape from the constant torrent of ominous news. But from the very beginning, Monterey has featured artists determined to fight injustice on and off the bandstand, a ruling prerogative of truth that continues when the nation’s longest-running jazz festival celebrates its 60th season of the year. Friday to Sunday September 15. 17.
Among the jazz legends who performed at the first festival in 1958 was Sonny Rollins, who, at 28, was at the height of his reign as the most influential tenor saxophonist of the decade. A few months earlier, he had released his period album Riverside “Freedom Suite”, which included his brief statement making it clear that liberation in his mind was more political and cultural than musical.