Thursday, August 04, 2011
Veteran Jazz Stars Shine at Newport Jazz Festival® Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management
Jazz Writer Eugene Holley Takes A Look at Veterans of Jazz Performing at Newport Festival
NEWPORT, RI - Real jazz is music for grown-ups, played by grown-ups. And, as the impressive array of artists assembled at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival® Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management aurally illustrates, with rare exceptions, most musicians arrive at their own sound when they hit their thirties and forties. So when you see them, it's not about "catching a rising star," it's more like witnessing an assemblage of distinct musical planets circumnavigating their own orbits, encompassing the tradition and their own individual approaches to that tradition.
The ageless octogenarian pianist/bandleader Randy Weston has orbited all of the jazz and blues-based inventions and dimensions of the African Diaspora for more than six decades. Though born in "The Village of Brooklyn," Weston is a proud global citizen of a proud and profound Black planet, with parental lineages that include Jamaica, Panama, and the American south. Pianistically, he is a descendant of the great jazz pianists: Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Nat King Cole and John Lewis. His touch on the keyboard is bone deep; as if each finger on his six foot seven-inch frame is weighted the ancestral ache of the blood, sweat and tears of a people. As a composer, Mr. Weston has penned some of the most identifiable jazz standards of the modern era, including the hip-notizing "Little Niles," and the ebullient "Hi-Fly." Not one to merely pay lip service to the African origins of the music, Weston lived in the Motherland, ran a jazz club in Morocco, and established life links with the mysterious Gnawa musicians of that country. A recipient of an NEA Jazz Masters Award, and the co-author of a long-awaited autobiography, African Rhythms - co-written by Willard Jenkins - Weston comes to the Newport stage on Saturday August 6, 2011, with his African Rhythms Trio, featuring his long-time cohorts bassist Alex Blake and drummer Neil Clarke, for a sizzling and spiritual set that best exemplifies the Roman historian Pliny the Elder' ancient dictum, "Out of Africa, always something new."
Another wonderful African export (by way of Detroit) is the ever-inventive and elegant violinist Regina Carter. She was a youngster when she soloed on the on the seventies hit "This Must be Heaven" with the R&B group Bloodstone, and she launched into her creative wellspring as a leader in the eighties and nineties, working with jazz masters like Kenny Barron, Danilo Perez; R&B/hip-hop stars including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, and rock icon Billy Joel. And she's made jazz recordings range from a soulful Motor City tribute to her universally acclaimed Paganini After a Dream, where she made an incredible pilgrimage to Italy to play the legendary violinist's violin nicknamed "The Cannon." She's gone from swing to pop, bossa nova, Latin and classical, and when she takes the Newport stage on Saturday, August 6, she reprises the jazz-meets-West Africa grooves she laid down on her latest recording Reverse Thread - a kind of musical middle passage from the New World to the Old, piloted by Carter, kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko, accordion master Will Holshouser, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer/percussion Alvester Garnett. What Carter and company will do is invert the Middle Passage with a musical language that shares a trans-Atlantic Black past and looks forward to a globally brown future.
When one ponders the future of the jazz organ, Philadelphia's Joey De Francesco must always be in that discussion. A child prodigy of a proud Italian family, Francesco made his emulating the best of the modern organ tradition - from Jimmy Smith and Richard "Groove" Holmes to Larry Young. Before he could drive he worked with Hank Mobley, Philly Joe Jones, and when he emerged in the eighties, he also gigged with Miles Davis, and recorded a string of grooving CDs for the Columbia label. De Francesco, brings a no-nonsense, straight-ahead triad to the festival stage on Saturday, with drummer Byron Landham andguitarist Paul Bollenbeck for a foot-stomping, head-bobbing set that will feature selections from his forthcoming CD appropriately entitled "40," celebrating the four decades he's been stealing the scene on the scene.
If you combine the careers of saxophonist Joshua Redman, drummer Eric Harland, keyboardist Aaron Parks, and bassist Matt Penman - collectively known as the supergroup, James Farm - which is also the same as their debut CD that puts a spin on 21st Century improvisation, electronica, classical, folk, and pop idioms - it would tally dozens of recordings as leaders and sidemen, along with some very distinguished stints with Charles Lloyd, Dave Douglas, Terence Blanchard, and Joe Lovano; highlight diverse regional musical accents from Berkeley, CA, New Zealand, Seattle and Houston; and deliver intricate and imaginative takes on the music of Radiohead! Founded in 2009, the quartet previously worked together as members of the SFJazz Collective from 2005 to 2007, toured in 2010, and got their sound and group ID together before they recorded their first CD in the upstate New York recording studio called The Clubhouse. What this foursome brings to Newport on Sunday, August 7, is not a clichéd, market-driven aggregate of stars, but a conscious and committed group of swinging and sensitive musicians who happen to be stars, who selflessly blend their artistic lights together to offer listeners a new and brighter jazz flame fueled by the creativity of four masters; one small jazz nation under a groove.
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 John Benitez; 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 Zen&243n.
TICKETS & OTHER INFORMATION Tickets for the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management are on sale worldwide through www.ticketmaster.com and www.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 NewportVisitorInformationCenter, 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 (sponsor of the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage), Amstel Light, DownBeat, NPR Music, Jazz Times and travel partners JazzFest Travel Inc., Hyatt Regency Newport, The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Marriott Newport and Hotel Viking Newport.
# # # Schedule Subject to Change
The 2011 Newport Jazz Festivaló 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