But that’s not the case for everyone. Some 250 fans and a nearly a dozen musicians dusted off and cleaned up - perhaps changing to something less casual - and headed for Marble House. One of Newport’s storied mansions on stately Bellevue Avenue, it was built between 1888 and 1892 as one of the Vanderbilt family’s “summer cottages.”
On Saturday April 4, 2012, Marble House was something else: the site of a fundraising gala for the Newport Festivals Foundation, which produces the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals under the leadership of the festivals’ founding producer (and foundation chairman), George Wein. The gala raised more than $200,000 to help the nonprofit carry on the festival tradition well into the future.
The gala featured an array of musical combinations not heard at Fort Adams – or anywhere else for that matter. And the tapes were running. The Festivals Foundation has released that recording, called Newport Jazz Festival Gala!, on ArtistShare.
The first-time collaborations included:
- The playful trio improvisation “Three’s Free” by clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and pianist Jason Moran.
- Singer-guitarist Lionel Loueke and Moran on the impromptu original “Merci.”
- Cohen and guitarist Bill Frisell’s take on The Beatles’ “Come Together.”
- Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda and alto saxophonist Steve Wilson’s take on Castañeda’s “Double Portion.” (The dazzling Castañeda was the only gala entertainer who didn’t appear as part of the Fort Adams lineup last year. He will be there this August.)
If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend the gala, here’s a chance to check out the unusual pairings the evening presented. To purchase the album, visit ArtistShare's website. The CD cover calls this “Volume 1,” which means more editions are likely from future galas.
While Newport has been the setting for many a historic recording over the years (Duke Ellington’s triumphant 1956 Newport appearance is the best known), this was the first Newport recording that the festival organizers have produced themselves since the event began in 1954.