Thursday, February 2, 2023
Monterey Jazz Festival Artists Dee Dee Bridgewater & Kurt Elling Come to Walt Disney Concert Hall
By Dr. Valerie Wardlaw, Contributing Writer
Published January 18, 2023

Grammy and Tony Winner Dee Dee Bridgewater to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday, Jan. 20. (Mark Higashire photo)

If you missed the 2022 Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF), the über popular jazz fest is coming to Los Angeles on Friday, Jan. 20, bringing “the artistry, spirit, and fun,” to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This is the sixth year that the popular jazz festival has toured nationally, and its spectacular lineup of performers will not disappoint as MJF on Tour celebrates 65 years.

Grammy and Tony Award winning artist Dee Dee Bridgewater and two-time Grammy Award Winner Kurt Elling will headline the performance along with Musical Director Christian Sands on piano, Lakecia Benjamin on alto saxophone, Yasushi Nakamura on bass, and Clarence Penn on drums.

A bona fide jazz legend, Bridgewater is known for her “unique spin on the standards” and a MJF fan favorite is excited to perform with these intergenerational artists. A multifaceted performer with a career spanning four decades, Bridgewater never one to shy away from interesting opportunities won a Tony and rave reviews for her performance in the musical – The Wiz.


“It’s a wonderful band,” said Dee Dee Bridgewater.  Christian Sands is one of our young stars, and I love that he could lead this whole thing. Kurt [Elling] is a dear, dear friend. And Lakecia is someone that I’ve mentored a little bit—I have a mentoring program for women called the Woodshed Network, and she was in the first edition. We’ve just stayed close ever since then, and her star is rising.” Bridgewater has performed at Monterey six times since the early 1970’s.

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The New York Times calls vocalist Kurt Elling, “the standout male vocalist of our time.” Elling talks of the opportunity to collaborate and “to try to get new things happening,” as the band tours the country.

“When we go out on the road, we’re creating, and not just reiterating,” Elling said.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Christian Sands and Lakecia Benjamin- MJF on Tour Celebrating 65 Years. (RR Jones photo)

Musical director Christian Sands agrees that this “more than a super band, it has a deeper soul than that.” Sands, a two-time Grammy nominee and MJF Artist-in-Residence, 2020-2022, has performed at the MJF five times and this is his second turn as MJF on Tour musical director.


“Everyone involved is bringing their ‘A’ game and it’s great to work with artists that aren’t just incredibly gifted but have a continued drive and want to create! We all have the same hunger which leads to incredible camaraderie and music creation,” Sands said.

MJF on Tour will take place in January and April 2023 performing 25 concerts in 12 states. For additional information on Friday’s concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, visit



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