Monterey Jazz Festival hits a ‘blue note’ for a plastic-free ocean

In the dimly lit Night Club at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, the Gerald Clayton Trio took their Monterey Jazz Festival audience on a musical journey. As Gerald’s fingers danced over the keys, backed by Joe Sanders on bass and Obed Calvaire on drums, minds were set free to roam—down the sticky streets of pre-dawn Manhattan, over spring-green hillsides, into the gray coastal mist.

Then, during a pause in the trio’s Friday-night performance, Gerald held up a stainless steel water bottle and channeled the ocean.

He mentioned his recent visit to the Aquarium, where he’d learned about our initiatives to reduce single-use plastic. “Let’s get rid of water bottles,” he urged the audience. “Plastic straws, no more! If you see me around, I’ll be rockin’ one of these pretty cool [reusable bottles], and I hope you do, too. Keep in mind that we want to keep living on this Earth.”

MBA logo_Gerald ClaytonRhythm of the sea

Gerald, a pianist, composer and four-time Grammy nominee, is a rising star in the jazz world. While his fluency on the keys has earned him international accolades, it’s more than technical expertise that makes him shine.

As one NPR reviewer put it, “He has touch, too. He’s a warm and graceful player, with plenty of personal nuance.”

That warmth comes through in Gerald’s efforts to make our world a better place. This year, he served as an MJF Artist-in-Residence, mentoring young musicians. He’s also the Aquarium’s 2017 Conservation Artist, joining our movement to switch from single-use plastics to reusable alternatives.

Latin Jazz Collective’s John Nava introduces the band during a high-energy set—and hydrates with his reusable bottle.

For the second year, the Aquarium (a Jazz Festival sponsor) provided reusable water bottles for the musicians and encouraged jazz fans to reduce single-use plastic.

Raising the pitch

Plastic pollution threatens the health of the global ocean, which sustains all life on our planet. Plastic is now found in almost every marine and freshwater habitat on Earth, and we’re producing more than we can sustainably manage.

But each of us can do something about it, by using less single-use plastic in the first place. Here are a few simple steps:

– Switch to reusables, and refuse plastic products you can do without.

Water station2-cropped
Aquarium staff volunteered over the Jazz Fest weekend, distributing reusable water bottles to artists.

– Post a selfie with your reusable bag, bottle or straw, and tag #montereybayaquarium.

– Get involved to reduce single-use plastic in your workplace, school or community.

– Speak up to let your elected officials know you care about this issue. Encourage them to support science-based policies to reduce the sources of ocean plastic pollution.

Together, we can turn back the tide of ocean plastic pollution. The solution is in our hands.

Featured image: Jazz pianist Gerald Clayton, the 2017 Monterey Bay Aquarium Conservation Artist, urges fans to join him in the movement for a plastic-free ocean.

Learn more about ocean plastic pollution, and what you can do about it.

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