Monterey Jazz Festival
Conceived over 60 years ago, Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest-running celebration of the genre. Honouring the roots of jazz, the organisers also work on creating an awareness of imbalances within the scene today.
Chosen for: Preserving Culture, Driving Diversity and Long-Term Impact.
Founded in 1958 by two jazz enthusiasts – DJ Jimmy Lyons and the critic Ralph Gleason – the first edition of Monterey Jazz Festival hosted titans of the genre, such as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. With over 60 years in the game, Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest-running event of its kind in the world. Its impact is such that it has become a cornerstone display for jazz music, and welcomed pioneers to its bandstands over the years: Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Norah Jones, to name a few.
Monterey Jazz Festival extends beyond being an event. While this annual celebration is an anchoring point for musicians and the international jazz community, it’s also an organisation that pays homage to the roots of the genre whilst tackling imbalances within the scene. Jazz has always been political by nature, its origins stemming back to protest music. It reflected the struggles of Black folks and advocated for social change.
These values are a part of the festival’s ethos, who have worked on addressing, and creating an awareness of, inequalities across the international community today – particularly racial and gender imbalances. In 2019 they launched their Next Generation Women in Jazz programme to champion women in the genre. Year-round, they also run an education programme introducing jazz into local schools. Furthermore, the team runs summer camps and hosts a smaller Next Generation Jazz Festival for young people. This educational programme seeks to inspire a new generation. The annual festival not only celebrates jazz, it preserves it as an art form for generations to come.
Monterey Jazz Festival takes place at Monterey County Fairgrounds on 23-24 September 2023.