Thursday, March 10, 2016

Newport's jazz beat keeps rolling on....

George Wein
Producer George Wein and his team make a big splash in January when they announce the lineup for the Newport Jazz Festival, long considered the granddaddy of outdoor music festivals. But it was only a tease in some ways. Read on.

The 2016 edition, scheduled July 29-31, has a vast array of talent, including Chick Corea's all-star trio, singers Gregory Porter, Tierney Sutton (festival debut), Jose James and Angelique Kidjo; saxophonists Charles Lloyd, Donny McCaslin and Kamasi Washington (debut); pianists Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kenny Barron, Sullivan Fortner (debut), Robert Glasper and Rossano Sportiello (debut); the bands The Bad Plus, Galactic (debut), Kneebody, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, the John Scofield/Joe Lovano Quintet, and the Chris Potter-Dave Holland-Lionel Loueke-Eric Harland Supergroup; among many others. 

Corea's trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade and singer Gregory Porter's band headline the Friday night performance at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and perform again on Saturday as part of the Fort Adams State Park lineup.

But the news kept on coming, because the roughly 50 bands announced January 19 weren't all of it. Every few days came another interesting name. Those added gems included guitarists Nel Cline (debut) and Mary Halvorson, saxophonists Anat Cohen and Jimmy Heath, piano prodigy Joey Alexander, singer Lizz Wright, and singer-pianist Norah Jones (debut).

Christian McBride
Then came today's news that Christian McBride has been named to succeed 90-year-old Wein as Artistic Director of the festival. He will work alongside Wein and eventually succeed him as NJF's music curator. Wein has held the producer/artistic director role since its founding in 1954. With this move, longtime collaborator Danny Melnick shifts from associate producer to producer of the festival.

McBride first appeared at Newport in 1991 as part of RCA's heralded Jazz Futures band. Over the past 25 years, he has evolved into one of the finest and busiest bass players and bandleaders in jazz. Now he'll be even busier as he joins the NJF team - and works on 2017's Newport programming. I have no doubt he's already thinking about it. What a torch to be handed. 

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