Historic Performances

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Miles Davis, 1964
Miles Davis, 1964

Every year of the Monterey Jazz Festival is a historical event -- a compendium of the world's finest jazz performers. However, there are some appearances that are of special importance. Some are extraordinary performances in a musician's career; some mark the beginning or ending of a jazz era. The very first Festival included a husky-voiced Billie Holiday only nine months before her death. Both Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk appeared for the first time at the 1963 Festival and played memorable performances. The very first film footage shows an incredibly athletic and energetic Don Ellis in 1967. In the 1970s more and more emphasis was placed on the student musicians, so much so that that the band, Matrix, was the highlight in 1976 with its youthful enthusiastic playing. These pieces and the selections featured on this page are a few of the moments that stand out in the history of the Festival.

Davis and Mingus photos by Jerry Stoll; Monk photo courtesy of the Monterey County Herald