Ryan Chartrand

Music fans will have a chance to experience a decade’s worth of vibes in an unprecedented tour making a stop on campus tonight. What makes the event even sweeter is a deal benefiting students.

The Monterey Jazz Festival’s 50th Anniversary Band will play tonight at 8 p.m. in the Christopher Cohan Center. Tickets are available for $36 to $48, but student rush tickets can be purchased at the door for $8.

The band is comprised of six accomplished musicians who span the entire spectrum of jazz styles. Saxophonist James Moody, 82, first played in Monterey in 1962 – 17 years before drummer Kendrick Scott was born.

“It’s an intergenerational band who all have separate, successful careers but that enjoy playing together and learning from each other,” festival director Timothy Orr said.

Other members are pianist Benny Green, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, bassist Derrick Hodge and vocalist Nnenna Freelon. Blanchard’s 2005 album “Flow” won the Grammy for “Best Jazz Album” and he has over 50 film scores. Hodge has worked with artists such as Mos Def, Timbaland, Jill Scott and Kanye West.

The artists were chosen as much for their skill as for their various connections and history with Monterey; all of the performers have performed at the festival before.

“We had a very short list of people who we thought epitomized the way we think about the world,” Orr said. “We want to deliver the message of Monterey to the country.”

The Monterey festival is the longest-running jazz festival in the nation and the tour is meant to pay homage to all the styles that have made the event so popular over the years. The annual festival, held the third weekend of September, attracted more than 40,000 spectators last year.

“The Monterey Jazz Festival is world-renowned for its innovation and spotlight on emerging talent, as well as being a forum for established jazz masters to perform,” said Lisa Woske, head of public affairs for Cal Poly Arts. “The tour virtually provides a whole festival feeling in one showcase, and you don’t have to travel to Monterey to experience it.”

Cal Poly students who take advantage of the rush deal are in store for a completely unique performance, she said. Fans of jazz know that the beauty of the music lies in its improvisational qualities.

As Orr said, “Expect the unexpected. A large part of jazz is spontaneous composition. The musicians show an incredible amount of artistry and dedication to their craft, doing something different every night.”

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