The Sunday night finale show at the Monterey Jazz Festival was the most consistent for sustained pleasure.
Vocalist Kurt Elling, a past MJF artist-in-residence, was the perfect voice for the opening "Dedicated To You" salute to quintessential balladeer Johnny Hartman. Master tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts expertly handled the melodic mood of trend-setter John Coltrane.
"Everything's right on target with him," KSPC Latin jazz disc jockey Brett Taylor said about Elling. "He understands that total imitation is mimicry and that one best salutes an artist by making one's own statement and being inspired to excellence by that artist's example.."
Hartman and Coltrane probably smiled in heaven, pleased and proud of how Elling, Watts, pianist Laurence Hobgood, drummer Ulysses Owens, bassist Robert Amster, violinists Cornelius Dufallo and Mary Rowell, viola player Ralph Farris and cellist Dorothy Lawson handled their work.