The talent longevity ranges from 88-year-old Lou Donaldson, appearing Sunday with his quartet, to pianist Joey Alexander, who turned 12 a few days ago. Alexander will bring his trio to the festival's intimate new Storyville jazz stage inside the Museum of Yachting on Saturday.
New Orleans will be well-represented again this year with Jon Batiste & Stay Human, trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and Dr. John.
The weekend's many singers include Cassandra Wilson, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jose James, Lisa Fischer, Dr. John, and Cullum.
Here are several acts I find most interesting and noteworthy each day. There are always painful choices with overlapping sets on four stages. They are on my not-to-be missed list, though I undoubtedly will also see many more.
Friday, July 31:
- The jazz collective Snarky Puppy, a band that is bringing many young fans to the music.
- Sets by two rising young bandleaders: saxophonist Matana Roberts with her band Coin Coin, and trumpeter-singer Bria Skonberg with her trad-influenced but wide-ranging quintet.
- The Maria Schneider Orchestra, which is just out with what is her most formidable recording to date, The Thompson Fields.
- Guitarist Pat Martino's organ trio with Pat Bianchi on B-3 and Carmen Intorre on drums.
- Trumpeter Tom Harrell's quintet. Harrell has played Newport in the distant past as a sideman, but this is his first showcase at the festival as a leader. Long overdue and most welcome.
- Trombonist Conrad Herwig's "Latin Side of Horace Silver" project featuring Michel Camilo.
- Pianists Helen Sung and Joey Alexander at the Storyville stage.
Sunday, August 2:
- A set of piano duets by Camilo and Hiromi, this should be incendiary, given the passion and power both exude at the keyboard.
- Dr. John, the New Orleans gris gris ambassador, who had to cancel at the last minute a year ago due to a bout of the flu.
- Trumpeter Jon Faddis' "triumph of the trumpets" set that teams the longtime Dizzy Gillespie protege with Sean Jones and Marquis Hill, who was the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition winner.
- Pianist Fred Hersch's trio. If anyone can be described as carrying on the musical momentum of the late Bill Evans, surely it is Hersch.
Here's a link to the schedule. If you're heading to Newport. bring open ears, sunblock and lots of energy.