Monday, August 26, 2019

More Newport moments

Here are a few visual moments from the 2019 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival, held August 2-4, along with one from the Thursday, August 1 One More Once concert that featured the festival's founding producer, George Wein. The Newport Jazz Festival began in 1954. 

This was my 39th annual Newport festival trip dating back to 1981 when George brought the festival back to Newport and its picturesque Fort Adams State Park home. Hectic as it can be, having grown from a single main stage in the early 1980s to four varied stages, it never disappoints.

My primary coverage can be found at and

George Wein and NJF Artistic Director Christian McBride
Jon Batiste

The Sun Ra Arkestra

Drummer Ralph Peterson's Messengers Legacy band

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Tony Scherr, Jenny Scheinman, Allison Miller

Artist-in-Residence Herbie Hancock

Dianne Reeves

Laurin Talese

Terence Blanchard

Aaron Diehl

PJ Morton

The tented Quad Stage is a big draw

Friday, August 9, 2019

Catching up with old friends, musically

Timing is everything. Singer Ronnie Rose returned to New England last weekend for his 50-year class reunion at Taunton High School in southeastern Massachusetts. It turned out to be great timing by reunion planners, because the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra performs on the first Monday of the month at The Met Café in nearby Pawtucket RI. As a result, Rose also had a musical reunion with the trumpeter 's big band, which was one of his favorite backing bands before he moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago.
Ronnie Rose and the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra

As a special guest for the night, on Monday, August 5, Rose performed a half-dozen tunes. They included Allmark's arrangement of “The Shadow of Your Smile” (a crowd-pleaser often performed by orchestra’s longtime vocalist, the late Clay Osborne), “Stormy Monday,” Ray Charles’ “Mary Ann” (first recorded in 1957 and then recorded with conguero Pancho Sanchez in 2003), and Big Joe Turner’s “Switchin’ in the Kitchen,” which Turner re-recorded with Rhode Island’s Roomful of Blues.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Newport Jazz Festival's 65th anniversary edition is in the books

The granddaddy of all jazz festivals - held in Newport starting in 1954 - hit another milestone this past weekend (August 2-4). Over three days, plus a Friday evening downtown concert, the Newport Jazz Festival celebrated its 65th anniversary with a wide array of musicians from the jazz spectrum and beyond. Alto saxophonist Gary Bartz made his first Newport appearances at this year's event.

My annual photo-pit marathon, briskly ambling between four stages, wound up Sunday evening, as I documented and captured moments from most of the 58 bands that performed over the three day weekend. JazzTimes has posted a wide array of those images taken by yours truly and three other assigned photographers (Marek Lazarski, Alan Nahigian and Joseph Allen) as part of its comprehensive coverage.

As some of you know, this was my 39th annual trek to Newport, starting in 1981 when founding producer George Wein brought the festival back to Newport after a 10-year hiatus.

Sheila Jordan
In addition to the photo pit adventures, which made it impossible to hear more than a song or two of most performances, it also provided a few opportunities for some backstage portraiture. One happy subject was Sheila Jordan, who appeared as special guest with The Royal Bopsters vocal quartet. "I may be old, but I'm not dead yet," she told the crowd.

Brandon Goldberg
At age 90, she wasn't the oldest performer. That honor went to saxophonist Marshall Allen, who at 95 still leads the Sun Ra Arkestra. The youngest performer at Newport this year was pianist Brandon Goldberg, 13, who led a trio with bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. on the festival's Storyville Stage.

Perhaps the most poignant event happened the night before the festival opening. 

Wein performed at a free Quad Stage concert* at Fort Adams State Park that was dubbed One More Once. Wein, who turns 94 in October, performed with bassist Christian McBride, who is now in his third year as the jazz festival's artistic director. They were joined after a few numbers by an unadvertised guest: trumpeter Jon Faddis.

Before performing “What is This Thing Called Love?,” Wein tipped his hat to the many jazz festival executives who have been so vital to its past and are bringing it well into the future. 

Wein, McBride, Faddis
“We’ve been here 65 years, and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said. “I want to dedicate this program to the generations that have made the festival what it is and the new
generation that’s taking it over and will be bringing us more festivals for many years to come.” He singled out longtime associates Bob Jones and Darlene Chan, and the Newport Jazz Festival/Folk Festival executive director Jay Sweet.

 At one point, Wein suggested Faddis and McBride do a duet. As they explored Miles Davis's “All Blues," Wein, 93, listened at his piano, savoring their music like a proud papa.

McBride joined the Newport Jazz Assembly for several numbers before his duo collaboration with Wein. The septet has performed for students at 65 public elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island over the past two years. The ensemble is sponsored by the Newport Festivals Foundation.

I'll post more Newport Jazz Festival images as time permits.

The Newport Jazz Festival is sponsored by Natixis Investment Managers.

*The event was part of BridgeFest, a series of Monday-through Thursday local music events to "bridge" the days between the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival.