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Tim Jackson retires as the Monterey Jazz Festival’s artistic director

KAZU's Paul Fingarote with his friend and colleague Tim Jackson. Jackson will retire as the Monterey Bay Jazz Festival's artistic director this year, ending his 32-year tenure.
Paul Fingarote
KAZU's Paul Fingarote with his friend and colleague Tim Jackson. Jackson will retire as the Monterey Bay Jazz Festival's artistic director this year, ending his 32-year tenure.

Click below for Paul Fingerote's full interview with Tim Jackson

Full KAZU interview with Tim Jackson

Cole Porter’s lyrical lament “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” might just serve as this year's theme for Monterey Jazz Festival Artistic Director Tim Jackson. After 32 years in that position, Tim has told the festival he's saying goodbye. Announcing his semi-retirement with the Monterey Jazz Festival, the half from which Tim is stepping away.

He sat down for an interview with KAZU’s Paul Fingerote, who worked with Tim at the festival for many years. Tim shares his thoughts on his “semi-retirement” and his top picks for this year’s festival, the last festival for which Tim Jackson will serve as artistic director.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Tim, welcome. Thank you for being here. I'm thinking that your decision has to be the textbook definition of bittersweet.

TIM JACKSON: People ask me a variation on that question, and what I often use is, is the phrase I learned from you: Everything has a beginning, middle and an end.

Oh, I like it. Thank you!

JACKSON: And I use that often. And I think it's apropos in this case. I've had an amazing run. I've been at the festival for 33 years. 32 of those in either the role of general manager, artistic director, and it's been an incredible run and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

And I think at this point, you know, I'm going to be 70 years old next year. Not that that's super old, but it is kind of a milestone year. And I've been in the music business now for 50 years. I started in 1973 as an intern up at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay. And it just seemed like the time was right.

What are Tim's top three not-to-be-missed, must-see acts on the Jimmy Lyons stage. And what are your top three acts on the grounds?

JACKSON: Well, I would say I certainly think of Terence Blanchard, the first artist on Friday night. Because Terence is essentially doing a career retrospective. So he has his working group, his E-Collective, along with the Turtle Island Quartet, which is a modern day string quartet, along with a whole bunch of special guests. Dianne Reeves, Benny Green, Christian McBride, Lakecia Benjamin, who is our artist in residence for this year.

On Saturday, I would have to say Dianne Reeves, just because Dianne has a relationship with the Monterey Jazz Festival audience. Dianne has literally been on the Monterey Jazz Festival stage her entire career. I know that the festival is a real highlight for her. And the way she lights up the arena is just something to behold.

So, you know, Dianne Reeves at Monterey is just sort of, I don’t know, it’s like peanut butter and jelly. (laughs)

And Sunday, I would have to say, I mean, I can't wait to see Jamie Cullum again.

He was so electric, back in 2008. And it was just a trio, just him on piano and vocal and a bass player and a drummer. He has a seven-piece band now.

If we're talking about the grounds, there's a couple of artists that I think all weekend long, there's this great duo in the Coffeehouse Gallery — Lucia Micarelli and Leo Amuedo. Lucia is a violinist, singer, and Leo is a guitarist from Uruguay.

Then early on Sunday, I found I was listening to a lot of new music, and I found this young hip-hop rapper, a young man from Brooklyn named Cisco Swank. And then for a third, I would have to say, because he's playing both on the Lyon’s stage and on the grounds. But you always want to hear Christian McBride.

Thank you for being here at KAZU. You thank you so much for your time. Thank you for everything you've done, not only for the Monterey Jazz Festival and Kuumbwa, but for the world of jazz in general. We wish you a safe landing and safe travels from here on in. 

Thank you, Tim Jackson.

The Monterey Jazz Festival takes place Sept. 22-24, with tickets and information at

Paul Fingerote is living a life-long dream of “being on the radio” in his role as Fill-In Host on KAZU, a position he sought when he first volunteered to answer phones during a membership drive at the station. A copywriter, creative director and ad agency executive and owner in Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney and London, Paul was fortunate to have ended up in Monterey, working as Marketing Director of the Monterey Jazz Festival for 30 years. He is the co-author of Jazz On My Mind with jazz icon, Dr. Herb Wong, to be published by McFarland Publishing in 2016.