Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sunny and sultry weather blend with hot music for Newport Jazz Festival's 2018 finale

The scheduling gods complicated my 38th annual visit to the Newport Jazz Festival and/or Newport Folk Festival. It meant I was only able to attend on Sunday, August 5, covering the jazz event for JazzTimes

They came by land and sea
But the schedule turned out to be fortuitous. Saturday's monsoon-like intense rain and resulting mudfest (yes, the music went on), gave way to a humid day with brilliant sunshine and a wide range of hot music.

Favorite acts, caught during and after photo-pit dashes between the three outdoor stages and the club-like indoor Storyville venue, included several all-woman bands, some contemporary advances on the bebop tradition, and two fine singers: festival veteran Gregory Porter and newcomer Jazzmeia Horn.

Of particular note: 


The septet Artemis was named after the Greek goddess of the hunt, a daughter of
Artemis' Aldana, Cohen, Jensen
Black Art Jazz Collective
Zeus and sister of Apollo. This all-woman super band teams reed players Anat Cohen and Melissa Aldana, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, pianist/musical director Renee Rosnes, bassist Noriko Ueda, drummer Allison Miller and singer C├ęcile McLorin Salvant.The band crackled with energy and fine music including its romp through Rosnes' original "Galapagos." This main stage set (was Aldana's long-overdue Newport debut. She won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition five years ago. 

The Black Art Jazz Collective brought its modern bop sound to the nearby Harbor Stage. The band featured saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, trombonist James Burton III, pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Johnathan Blake. 

Toronto-based soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett blended
Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
jazz and Afro-Cuban music with her sextet Maquegue. The five other musicians are women from Cuba: pianist Danae Olano, bassist Celia Jimenez, percussionist Mary Paz, drummer Naile Sosa andlead singer Melvis Santa. This one was tropically hot.


Another fine Cuban band opened the Quad Stage on Sunday. Pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa's trio included bassist Gaston Joya and the leader's brother, Ruy Lopez-Nussa, on drums. Lopez-Nussa is more of a modernist, putting a fresh spin on the Cuban music and jazz intersect.

Drummer Herlin Riley's New York-Havana Connection quintet opened the main stage on Sunday morning. Riley began his set with a solo on a conch shell, it's deep horn-like sound emulating those carried by some of the ships anchored yards offshore in Newport Harbor.


Charles Lloyd
The three-day festival included different lineups each day led by saxophonist Charles Lloyd as a celebration of his 80th birth year. Sunday's Lloyd finale included his "Charles Lloyd & Friends" band with pianist Jason Moran, guitarists Stuart Mathis and Marvin Sewell, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Eric Harland and singer Lucinda Williams.





The many other Sunday acts included England's GoGo Penguin trio, pianists Bill Charlap and Helen Sung, saxophonist James Carter's organ trio, flutist Nicole Mitchell's Dusty Wings and the crowd-drawing closer, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic.

Natixis Investment Managers is the festival's presenting sponsor.

Festival founding producer George Wein, now 92, continues to put his stamp of approval on the event. He created a Newport Festivals Foundation several years ago to ensure these storied jazz and folk festival outlive him. Bassist Christian McBride is the Newport Jazz Festival's artistic director.

Earlier this month, the state and the foundation unveiled an agreement to continue the festivals for at least 25 years at Fort Adams State Park, its picturesque home since 1981. The foundation also signed a 40-year lease to transform the former Museum of Yachting, a brick building now housing the Storyville stage, into a festivals museum.    

I've posted more photos from Newport here.                            

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