The clouds threatened Saturday at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and there were a few moments of drizzle, but the jazz gods behaved themselves in the end. The crowds stayed, and thickened. The music went on past midnight and, for this writer, it happened again as it happens most years: show by show, the music began to click and connect on a lot of levels. It became the typical Saturday-night-at-Monterey experience. Intense.

As the festival heads into its final day  and toward tonight's Arena performance by the venerable Wayne Shorter, 80 years old  here's a look-back at some of the Saturday night specials at Monterey. You may notice that I missed the big Arena acts: Dave Holland, Bobby McFerrin. My apologies, but choices had to be made. And what I heard was memorable.

7:30 p.m. Bassist Charnett Moffett performed a 15-minute solo recital on the Garden Stage. That was it: 15 minutes. He supplied the introduction to a night of music by various acts on the Harlem-based Motema record label.

But in 15 minutes, Moffett -- alone with his customized double-bass and the electronic effects he has designed for it -- conveyed more information, with more conviction and interest, than do many bands in hour-long sets. A virtuoso and a showman, he dove through tunes, structuring them as etudes, blowing them up with his improvisations. Each lasted maybe 90 seconds: Juan Tizol's "Caravan," Lennon-McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby," Wynton Marsalis's "Black Codes (From the Underground)," Charles Mingus's "Haitian Fight Song.

" (You can hear Moffett play all of them on his recent album "The Bridge: Solo Bass Works.")

It was a lesson in concentrated vision, in charisma, power and out-of-the-box thinking. It also was fun. You got a sense of why so many band leaders  Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Ornette Coleman, Sting  have called on Moffett, who is 46, since he was a teenager. Saturday, his recital also included a tune called "Free Your Mind," which must be the bassist's theme song.

8 p.m. With his new quartet churning at his back, it was only a matter of minutes before saxophonist Ravi Coltrane sweated through his neatly-pressed button-down shirt. The audience, which packed Dizzy's Den, was sweating, too.

The set began with a couple of original tunes; here, on tenor, Coltrane played with a rounded velvet tone that recalled his father (John), while spinning lines that were a very different kind of serpentine. He has taken pains through the years to evolve his own approach, to be a non-clone Coltrane. But as Saturday's show progressed, maybe because of this band's special intensity and proclivities, or maybe because he is now 48 and comfortable enough to embrace the history from which he springs  well, Coltrane was very much his father's son.

On Charlie Parker's "Segment," he played whirling dervish lines on the sopranino saxophone as the band began its mountain-moving ebb and flow; Trane-like. Cuban pianist David Virelles  whose earlier solos had been spiky and skittery and spider-webbish  slipped into full modal-ness. Bassist Dezron Douglas was the sober bedrock, fat-toned and imperturbable; geological motion in bass-time. As for drummer Johnathan Blake  he may be the drummer Coltrane has been waiting for; close to overwhelming, a sort of Elvin for the hip-hop age. And if Blue Note Records, Coltrane's label, doesn't record this band in concert, it's making a mistake.

9:30 p.m. Pianist Orrin Evans, who grew up in Philadelphia, has patiently moved his music over 15-plus years to a point where influences converge. With his trio in the Coffee House, performing an arrangement of Luther Vandross's "A Brand New Day" (from "The Wiz"), he was all about Philadelpha jazz percussiveness, a storm of sound (referencing McCoy Tyner). But he simultaneously was about R&B tunefulness and church-based soul. If you don't yet know his music, it's time to listen. He is one of the formidable players.

His trio  with bassist Eric Revis and drummer Donald Edwards  can swing with locomotive momentum. They are fierce musicians. But this locomotive also has a stick shift; the trio glides through the smoothest change-ups in time and feel, taking curves, stripping things down so that the smallest gestures ring through the music with HD clarity. Edwards' brush work was astonishing.

11 p.m. The "Sound Prints" Quintet, co-led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano, began its show in Dizzy's Den with some free-bop and then with a floaty ballad that echoed Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica." Drummer Joey Baron  smiling master of outlandish cymbal splashes  established the band's tone: smart and loose, rambunctious, willing to take some risks.

The heart of the show was something special: A pair of new tunes by Wayne Shorter, commissioned by the festival for this band. (It had also played them in the Arena, earlier in the evening.) The scores went on for pages; stretched out in front of pianist Lawrence Fields, they measured about four feet, end to end.

Introducing the tunes, Lovano referred to Shorter as a "weather man, telling us the weather and predicting the future." Always a great tunesmith and a bruising swinger on saxophone, Shorter in recent decades has become the Yoda of jazz, wrapped in enigma. True to form, the new tunes, with their very titles, embrace Shorter's love of mysteries: "Destination Unknown" and "Sail Beyond the Sunset."

What do they sound like? Well, like classic Shorter tunes -- "Speak No Evil," "Deluge" -- they have perfect bass lines and a certain kind of harmonic motion that signifies "Wayne." But following Shorter's more recent habits, they have a sense of expansion to them. You hear the signposts, the cycling chords. But you also hear the song spreading out beyond itself, searching for the next song -- that unknown destination on the other side of sunset. Shorter isn't so much predicting the weather, as issuing a challenge: go, explore, live your life in a creative way.

The band embraced the challenge, sounding rugged, enjoying the Shorter joyride. Bassist Linda Oh stood out. In her "Sunset" solo, she seemed to be moving the song's building blocks around, fashioning something sturdy and new, maybe with a door that opens onto that mysterious next song.