On Sunday night, the Garden Stage belonged to six artists who clearly enjoyed each others' musicianship and commanded mastery of the jazz form.
While Kim Nalley and Houston Person may have been the top names on the bill, the backing band of pianist Tammy Hall, bassist Michael Zisman, guitarist Josh Workman and drummer Kent Bryson brought a slick, tight musicianship that made their jam session at the beginning of the set engrossing and enjoyable.
Houston Person arrived on stage to loud cheers from the audience and immediately laid down a sassy, soulful tenor sax line that had the crowd grooving in their seats. It didn't seem like the spectators could get any more excited, but when Kim Nalley arrived, they did.
Nalley's vocals are sexy, light and effortless; though her 3 1/2 octave range is often noted, there's never a sense that she's straining in order to achieve it. Whether she's scatting or singing, her voice has a playful quality. Just as Harry Connick, Jr. had done a few minutes previously, Nalley performed "It Had To Be You." While both had straight-ahead arrangements, as sung by Nalley there was a sense of flirtatious invitation that made it an entirely different song.
For more information on the Monterey Jazz Festival, see our Monterey Jazz Festival page. For coverage of the 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival, see all our Monterey Jazz Festival posts. For more photos from this and other performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, see our 2010 Monterey Jazz Festival set on Flickr.