Paul Desmond - Svend Assmussen - 1975
1975 Monterey Jazz FestivalPaul Desmond and Svend Asmussen – two of the All-star House Band.

1975 Monterey Jazz Festival – House Band Jam Session – Sept. 20, 1975 – KBCA-FM Los Angeles – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

1975 Monterey Jazz Festival this weekend. An illustrious and talent-filled festival, taking place some 41 years ago. The entire festival was broadcast live, and relayed to then-Jazz station KBCA-FM in Los Angeles, who ran it non-stop. Great show, as is evidenced by this jam session given by the House Band, which consisted of Paul Desmond, Sven Asmussen, John Lewis, Harry “Sweets”Edison, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Mundell Lowe, Toots Thielemanns, Richard Davis and a host of others, all crammed on stage and offering up a delightful stew of hot Jazz for some 35 minutes.

All held together and MC’d by Jimmy Lyons, the festival cut a very wide musical swath; featuring everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and the Tashiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band to Blood, Sweat and Tears and The Meters. It signified the changes going on in Jazz, how the old guard was still holding on, but the new breed of musicians were coming on the scene in a big way.

It wound up being one of the more satisfying Jazz festivals in the 1970s – proving once again that Jazz was a melting pot of ideas and points of view; that it was ever-evolving, but that it wasn’t rejecting its history but rather learning and perfecting because of it.

Highlights of this festival have been available on DVD, but not the whole Festival, and not complete sets. And even though this one is missing the first few minutes, and a technical problem forced me to drop a rendition of Willow Weep For Me with Harry Sweets Edison because his muted trumpet played havoc with the sound. Still, most of these performances haven’t been available in any form. So if you’re new to Jazz and hearing about The Monterey Jazz Festival and the legacy of performers taking part, here’s a sample of what 1975 was like.

Enjoy – and come back for more in the coming weeks.

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