Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Newport Jazz Festival delivers again (updated)

Even though it's the granddaddy of America's outdoor music festivals, the Newport Jazz Festival doesn't take that pedigree lightly. It keeps delivering terrific jazz - of all stripes - in a postcard-perfect setting that has a breathtaking view of Newport harbor.
Tierney Sutton

The 2016 edition, held last weekend (July 29-31), offered several new music premieres by Darcy James Argue's Secret Society big band, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry, among others.
Charles Lloyd

Kamasi Washington
It also brought first-time Newport appearances by pianist Monty Alexander's band (heck, he's only 72), the exquisite singer Tierney Sutton, the grooving New Orleans jam band Galactic, pianists Henry Butler, Sullivan Fortner and Rossano Sportiello, and saxophonist Kamasi Washington. There were more new delights, too numerous to mention.

Washington performed twice with his band, providing a Friday highlight on the main stage and a different set altogether on Sunday on the more-intimate tented Quad Stage. It was easy to hear why his debut recording, 2015's 3-CD The Epic ranked at the top of so many year-end critics polls. Four other stupendous sets: Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and The Hot 9, the Joe Lovano-Chris Potter-Lionel Loueke-Eric Harland superband, Edmar Castaneda's World Ensemble, and the soulful jazz singer Gregory Porter.
Chick Corea

Pianist Chick Corea's Trilogy, with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, opened Friday's downtown Newport evening program at historic Newport Casino (the festival's birthplace in 1954), and performed again on Saturday at Fort Adams. McBride succeeds founder George Wein as the festival's artistic director beginning with 2017's programming.

Toshiko Akiyoshi
There were homecoming moments as well - none more poignant than Toshiko Akiyoshi's solo piano set on the indoor Storyville club stage - 60 years after making her Newport Jazz Festival debut while a student at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

The weekend weather was hot and humid for the most part, after a Friday morning-early afternoon downpour decided to skip town far earlier - and faster than predicted. Saturday's program was sold out. 

This was the first time in at least 20 years that the festival had drawn 10,000 people to Fort Adams State Park, though the Newport Folk Festival has had daily sellouts for several years. Credit the July 30 sellout largely to an appearance by singer-pianist Norah Jones.

I'm sharing a few photos to whet your visual appetites. A more extensive variety of my images is posted at jazztimes.com.


  1. Another great summary Ken. I'm hopeful you post that wonderful Charles Lloyd full body shot you shared with me. Exquisite! So great to see you again.

  2. The Charles Lloyd shot is included in the Jazztimes.com postings.