Last weekend’s Newport Jazz Festival, after a one-year absence due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, was mighty welcome for music fans and performers alike.
|Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah|
“It’s been an interesting year-and-a-half to two years. The ability to play for you is such a pleasure,” trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah told the crowd before his Saturday set on the main stage.
|Terri Lyne Carrington|
Highlights, for this listener, were Sunday’s Vibes Summit, with Sasha Berliner, Joel Ross and Warren Wolf backed by the Emmet Cohen trio; and sets by saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Charles Lloyd, Chris Potter and Kamasi Washington, The Jazz Gallery All-Stars, and the Kenny Barron-Dave Holland-Johnathan Blake trio.
A Christian McBride Situation, blending jazz with funk and two turntable artists (DJ Logic and Jahi Sundance), offered some interesting reinventions of jazz classics on Friday, including Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" and "It Don't Mean a Thing (if it Ain't Got That Swing)."
Everyone took the festival’s pandemic precautions in stride with little or no complaint.
This year’s festival was limited to two stages rather than the usual four, in recent years. There were 30 bands (10 per day) rather than the usual 50.
Attendance was capped at 6,000 per day – or 60 percent of capacity. Nobody got inside the gate without proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours. Masks were encouraged in close quarters or high-traffic areas, and were mandated in the photo pits.
The close ties
between Newport and
founder George Wein, now 95, didn’t make the trip from his home in
This was my 40th
consecutive Newport Jazz Festival, starting in 1981 when Wein brought the event