Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Newport Jazz Festival marathon

Tom Harrell
The 2015 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival, granddaddy of them all, was one of the finest in  recent memory... with spectacular weather, a wide range of engaging music, and combined attendance exceeding 23,000. Saturday was the more robust day at Fort Adams State Park with 8,000 attendees.

While I continue to prepare photos for publication assignments, let me share some personal favorite moments: 
  • Splendid sets on Saturday by guitarist Pat Martino's organ trio with Pat Bianchi on the B-3 and Carmen Intorre Jr. on drums; and trumpeter Tom Harrell's quintet, both on the tented Harbor Stage. I hadn't seen Harrell live in many years, and it was a reaffirmation of his power as a player, as well as the depth and beauty of his music. The overflow crowd hung on every moment - moments that seemed spiritual at times.
  • 12-year-old Joey Alexander, a native of Bali, Indonesia with the jazz chops of a much, much older player, displayed his piano mastery and engaging way with crowds, including two network TV teams documenting virtually his every move on stage and backstage for "60 Minutes" and Japan's NHK channel.
  • Alto saxophonist Grace Kelly, a frequent Newport player in recent years (who was considered a prodigy when she was 12 and throughout her teens) performed Friday night and Saturday afternoon with pianist Jon Batiste's high-flying band Human Spirit. Batiste begins his next high-profile gig in September as musical director for Stephen Colbert's edition of the CBS "Late Show" formerly hosted by David Letterman. Human Spirit will be his TV band.
    Jon Batiste
  • Batiste performed four times in Newport last week: Sunday, July 26 at the companion Newport Folk Festival, Friday, July 31, at the evening traditional opener at Newport Casino; Saturday afternoon, August 1 at Fort Adams; and at a Saturday night gala to benefit the Newport Festivals Foundation.  
    Lucia Micarelli, Richie Goods, Chris Botti
  • Trumpeter Chris Botti ostensibly was the Friday night headliner at Newport Casino, site of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but Batiste picked his pocket in terms of engaging musicality. But there was one superb moment at the start of Botti's otherwise predictable show, which rarely varies. As part of a weekend celebrating Miles Davis's Newport debut 60 years ago - and his Newport legacy through the years. Botti opened his set with a beautiful version of "Concerto de Aranjuez (Adagio)" - the hallmark piece from Sketches of Spain. This inspired Botti version featured Lucia Micarelli on violin and Ben Butler on flamenco guitar. For this Sketches of Spain lover, it was a goosebumps moment.
  • Festival producer George Wein introduced one of Sunday's supercharged sets, a piano duet featuring Michel Camilo and Hiromi. "Thais one's for me," Wein said. "These are two of my favorite people in the world and two of my favorite pianists in the world."
    James Carter
  • James Carter's sextet performed the music of Don Byas on the Quad Stage on Sunday afternoon. His channeling of the Byas spirit no doubt was enhanced by playing Byas's tenor saxophone. Carter played it at a Byas centennial concert in the Netherlands and arranged to buy it from its owner. "Seven months after the centennial hit," Carter said, "I brought his horn home." And last weekend, to Newport.

No comments:

Post a Comment