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.
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.
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|
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.
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.