Tuesday, July 26, 2011
A Joyful Noise: Big Bands x 2 at Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management
Jazz Journalist Eugene Holley Takes a Look at Big Bands Performing in Newport
From Duke Ellington's "rebirth" in 1956 and Count Basie's Sixteen Men Swinging, to Dizzy Gillespie's bebop sounds and the soulful strains of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival has presented the full range of jazz's finest big bands for six decades. And, as we are locked and loaded into the21st Century, this year's festival, presented by Natixis Global Asset Management, continues to present the boldest and brightest big bands in the business.
In the right hands, a leader of a big band goes beyond merely directing the notes the musicians play; s/he bends, shapes, alters and textures the sounds much like a painter uses the multi-colors of a canvas. Billy Strayhorn's and Gil Evans' evocative arrangements were the perfect sonic fit for Ellington and Miles Davis. The New York-born percussionist/composer/bandleader John Hollenbeck, is a sonic descendant of those aforementioned arrangers, and his critically-acclaimed 18-piece Large Ensemble - an amazing aggregation of the Big Apple's most exceptional musicians that includes bassist Kermit Driscoll and saxophonist Tony Malaby. Hollenbeck and company -- riding in on the beautifully blue notes from the highly-praise CDs, Eternal Interlude, Royal Toast (featuring the Claudia Quintet) and Shut Up and Dance, co-starring the Orchestra National de Jazz -- will appear on the Newport stage on Sunday, August 7, in a dancing and diverse program showcasing the leader's iconoclastic arrangements featuring the music of Imogen Heap, Jimmy Webb, Ornette Coleman and Kraftwerk, plus Hollenbeck's original work, set for CD release in 2012 with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band.
Along with special guest vocalists Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry, and keyboardist Uri Caine, Hollenbeck, an Eastman School of Music alum, covers the entire jazz band tradition from Ellington to Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, while utilizing the inventions and dimensions of electronica and world music. The result is a hard-to-define, yet identifiable style; distinct yet accessible: two necessary requirements for jazz immortality.
With his passionate, comprehensive and hard driving mélange of classical, bop, swing the avant-garde, and gospel, Charles Mingus has already achieved jazz immortality, as evidenced by his protean compositions "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Better Get Hit in Your Soul," and "Haitian Fight Song;" and his spectacular combos and large groups featuring drummer Dannie Richmond, Jackie McLean and Jimmy Knepper - not to mention his famous (some would say infamous) fiery personality - all of which garnered him praise for a diverse array of musicians from Duke Ellington to Elvis Costello and Joni Mitchell.
Since his passing in 1979, the mercurial bassist/composer/bandleader's widow, the tireless Sue Minguscreated and managed The Mingus Big Band and made it into one of the most durable and dynamic big bands today, thanks in large part to their groundbreaking residence in The Fez Under Time Café in Manhattan, and CDs like their recent Grammy award-winning recording, Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard. Yes, the musicians are exclusively devoted to Mingus' music. But the incredible imagination and improvisational artistry of some of the personnel including trumpeters Ryan Kisor, Lew Soloff, Randy Brecker, and Jack Walrath; saxophonists Vincent Herring, Craig Handy and Wayne Escoffery; pianists Orrin Evans, David Kikoski, Helen Sung, George Colligan, and Kenny Drew Jr.; trombonists Conrad Herwig, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, and Robin Eubanks; bassists Andy McKee and Dwayne Burno, plus drummers Victor Lewis and Jeff "Tain" Watts, goes way beyond anything resembling a museum-piece band. Charles Mingus uttered his famous declaration "And, thanks to my wife - and the magnificent musicians she assembled" - the Mingus Big Band continues its dynastic reign into the second century of jazz, when it takes the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management stage on Sunday, August 7. In the words of Charles Mingus," Let My Children Hear Music!"
Produced by George Wein and the Newport Festivals Foundation, the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management takes over Newport, RI, August 5-7 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino and Fort Adams State Park. The Festival features Wynton Marsalis and Michael Feinstein "Come Fly with Me" with Special Guest Joe Negri on Friday, August 5. Don't miss Wynton Marsalis; Esperanza Spalding and Friends; Hiromi; Regina Carter's Reverse Thread; Al Di Meola World Sinfonia Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody Tour 2011 with Special Guest Gonzalo Rubalcaba; Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Randy Weston's African Rhythms Trio; Michel Camilo "Mano a Mano with Giovanni Hidalgo and Charles Flores; Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet; Joey DeFrancesco Trio; Grace Kelly with guest Phil Woods; Steve Coleman and Five Elements; Mostly Other People Do the Killing; and New Black Eagle Jazz Band; on Saturday, August 6.
On Sunday, August 7, catch Angélique Kidjo; James Farm with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland; Charles Lloyd's Sangam featuring Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Hiromi: The Trio Project featuring Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips; Mingus Big Band; Ravi Coltrane Quartet; Esperanza Spalding and Friends; Brubeck Brothers Quartet with Special Guest Dave Brubeck; Ravi Coltrane Quartet; Apex: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green; Miguel Zenón presents the Puerto Rican Songbook with conductor/arranger Guillermo Klein; John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble; Avishai Cohen's Triveni with special guest Anat Cohen; Berklee College of Music: Mario Castro Quintet; Plus a special bonus set: A Meeting of Saxophone Masters featuring Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane and Miguel Zenón.
TICKETS & OTHER INFORMATION Tickets for the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management are on sale worldwide through www.ticketmaster.com andwww.newportjazzfest.net as well as by phone, by mail and at the new Festival office at the Alex and Ani store at One Bowen's Wharf during limited hours. General admission tickets (single-day passes only) also can be purchased at the Newport Visitor Information Center, located at 23 America's Cup Avenue. For general information, craft vendor information or to leave a message for festival staff, call (401) 848-5055. For more information, log on to www.newportjazzfest.net.
Partners Presenting sponsor Natixis Global Asset Management is one of the world's leading asset managers. The 2011 Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management also celebrates support from Alex and Ani Inc. (sponsor of the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage), Amstel Light, DownBeat, NPR Music, Jazz Timesand travel partners JazzFest Travel Inc., Hyatt Regency Newport, The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Marriott Newport and Hotel Viking Newport.
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The 2011 Newport Jazz Festival® is a production of Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc., a pending 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, under license from Festival Productions, Inc. and George Wein; all rights reserved
Media Contact: Carolyn McClair / CMPR (917) 686-0854 / Info@CarolynMcClairPR.com