you prefer a musical smorgasbord – a bit of this, a smidgen of that, or prefer
to camp out for a full set of a favorite artist – the 2016 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival has
something for everyone. With more than 50 different groups scheduled to appear
July 29-31, there can be a lot of ground to cover or filter through. Every
jazz-related genre is covered, no matter your style preferences.
are three outdoor stages at Fort Adams State Park and on Saturday and Sunday,
there’s an intimate Storyville stage tucked inside a former yachting
museum. This principally is a solo piano and small group showcase location that
only holds about 100 people, so waiting lines are common.
This year's traditional Friday night event
downtown at the Newport Tennis Hall of Fame, the historic Newport Casino site
that hosted George Wein’s first Newport festival back in 1954, features singer Gregory Porter’s band and pianist Chick Corea’s
trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Both groups are
also on the Saturday menu at Fort Adams.
be at NJF this month for the 35th time in 36 years. I started
covering the festival when Wein returned to Newport in 1981 after a 10-year
absence. As a photographer on assignment, there are often mad dashes between stages. I’m
used to it now, but return to savor more of an interesting set as time permits.
are some of the groups I most want to hear:
spartan, high-energy trio. Chick turned 75 last month but has never slowed down.
McBride and Blade add interesting personalities to the musical chemistry. Both
have much to say as leaders or sidemen. (McBride also is succeeding Wein
as the festival’s artistic director.)
Caribbean jazz-related bands: trumpeter Etienne Charles and Creole Soul
(Friday), Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express (Saturday) and Cuban-born saxophonist
Yosvany Terry’s quintet (Sunday).
Tierney Sutton’s “After Blue” Joni Mitchell Project with guitarist Serge
Merlaud and cellist Mark Summer (a Turtle Island String Quartet co-founder who
left that band last fall to pursue a solo career). Sutton has been a favorite
vocal performer for decades, yet this is her Newport debut. Her Friday
performance is long overdue. She's also guesting with The Hot Sardines on Saturday.
Angeles tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington. His triple-CD The Epic ranked as one of 2015’s top albums in virtually all critics
polls. He and his band perform at Fort Adams on Friday and on Sunday.
Donny McCaslin’s group. (Friday). The hard-edged, versatile tenor player is
always a treat to hear. This band is of particular interest, because it backed
David Bowie on his epitaph recording project, Blackstar.
harpist Edmar Castaneda’s World Ensemble. Due to his blend of musicality and
enthusiasm, there may be no more exhilarating performer to witness in jazz (Saturday).
Chris Potter’s supergroup with bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke
and drummer Eric Harland (Sunday).
Sullivan Fortner, Henry Butler, Rossano Sportiello and Toshiko Akiyoshi.
mainstream treats will include pianist Kenny Barron’s trio and the
venerable Heath Brothers (Friday) with saxophonist Jimmy Heath also guesting
with the Rhode Island Music Educators Association student big band on Saturday
morning). There’s also the prodigious pianist Joey Alexander, clarinetist Anat Cohen’s tentet and the John
Scofield/Joe Lovano Sextet.
Porter and Sutton, jazz vocals fans have the music of Jose James, Norah Jones, Angelique
Kidjo and Lizz Wright to savor.
out the festival website to see the full roster of 2016 performers because there’s an abundance of