Monday, July 05, 2010
Trumpets Sound at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival*
Writer Eugene Holley, Jr. gives his take on trumpet masters performing at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival
NEWPORT, RI - Buddy Bolden blowing on the Mississippi, the clarion call of Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues," the revolutionary, reordering of modern music proclaimed by Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia," to the walking-on eggshell artistry of Miles Davis; trumpeters have always heralded the infinitive variety of jazz's inventions and dimensions. Now, well into the change of the century, the dancing and daring diversity of the music's trumpet madness will be on ample display at the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival.
Sponsored by CareFusion, a leading medical device company, and produced by George Wein's New Festival Productions, LLC, the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival takes over Newport, RI, August 6 - 8 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino and Fort Adams State Park.
Wynton Marsalis' Big Easy-bred, neo-classicism still exudes the sound of surprise, just as it did when he emerged in 1981 as a fresh-faced "Young Lion" straight out of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. And, after a slew of Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize and millions of records sold, the all-world trumpeter, bandleader/educator/statesman hasn't show any signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his critically-acclaimed Blues Symphony, his latest recording, Portrait in Seven Shades (Jazz at Lincoln Center, 2010), and his awe-inspiring tribute to his hometown's legendary Congo Square (Jazz at Lincoln Center, 2007) - which is featured in the new HBO series, Treme, an urban melodrama set in post-Katrina New Orleans. At nearly 50 years old, Marsalis' butter-toned sound is as supple as ever, in any idiom, from 4/4 swing, ballads, Afro-Latin rhythms and waltzes. Where most artists bring their "A Game" to the stage, Marsalis brings his "A to Z game" and always strives to deliver all of the music's noir- nuanced complexity to the fore. Marsalis performs on the Fort Stage on Sunday, August 8.
The Oakland-born trumpeter Jon Faddis is a few years older than Wynton, but his link to the music is no less impressive and enduring. He emerged on the scene in the '70s - a teenaged protégé of the great bebop architect Dizzy Gillespie, who proudly proclaimed that Faddis was "the best ever..." And while no one on the planet could match Faddis' mastery of Gillespiana, the protégé label unfairly typecast him as a Dizzy clone, which of course, is absolutely absurd, as his most recent recording, the Afro-tinged Teranga (Koch, 2006) aurally illustrates. Like Marsalis, Faddis has also been busy as an educator and he shares his lessons and blessings at The Conservatory of Music at Purchase College-SUNY, in Westchester County, New York; and a guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago where he serves as the Artistic Director for the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. But words alone cannot the absolute power of jazz in the Faddisphere, which will no doubt be heard throughout the festival, with or without a microphone. Faddis performs on the Harbor Stage with his quartet and on the Fort Stage as special guest with Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, August 8.
Just as Jon Faddis is a student of Dizzy Gillespie, the Portland, Oregon-bred trumpeter Chris Botti is a disciple of Miles Davis. Botti intelligently utilizes the Prince of Darkness' celebrated muted melodicism on his popular PBS concerts and recordings, including Chris Botti in Boston (Sony, 2009), featuring bassist Robert Hurst, III, drummer Billy Kilson, pianist Billy Childs and guitarist Mark Whitfield, and the Boston Pops, categorized in the "contemporary jazz" designation, no doubt because of his high profile work with Sting, Aretha Franklin and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. But, his music is unapologetically accessible and unmistakably Milesian. And for him, profundity and popularity are not contradictions. Actually, when you think of it, Chris Botti is a kind of 21st Century throwback to the golden eras before the sixties, when jazz was heard on all popular mediums: all the more reason to hear this artist in these most open and accessible settings. Botti performs on the Fort Stage on Sunday, August 8.
Cursed (or blessed) with the need to change, Miles Davis' influence is as vivid and varied as his music. While Chris Botti can claim his Milesian birthright, so can the New York ubertrumpetmeister Dave Douglas, with DNA equally derived from Don Cherry's harmolodic pocket trumpet. Arguably the most ubiquitous horn player in the last decade, the breadth and depth of Douglas' two dozen-plus recordings cover a multitude of configurations, from his stirring Mary Lou Williams-tribute Soul on Soul (RCA Victor, 2000) and the Miles Davis fusion homage The Infinite (RCA Victor, 2002), to his silent movie era, Fatty Arbuckle tribute, Keystone (Greenleaf, 2005), his orchestral A Single Sky (Greenleaf, 2009) and Spirit Moves (Greenleaf, 2009) featuring Douglas' new Brass Ecstasy ensemble, consisting of trumpet, French horn, Trombone, tuba, and drums -- a Lester Bowie horn-based group with a kind of stripped-down Miles/Gil Evans/Birth-of-the-Cool vibe. And if anyone can make this combination work, the ever-resourceful Douglas can. Douglas and his Brass Ecstasy - Vincent Chancey, French Horn; Luis Bonilla, Trombone; Marcus Rojas, Tuba; and Nasheet Waits, Drums - perform on the Harbor Stage on Sunday, August 8.
Resourceful is also an apt word that best describes the music of the venerable Windy City native Randy Sandke. With over 20 recordings as a leader - including his latest, Randy Sandke's Jazz For Juniors (Arbors Records, 2009) - a kind of Peter and the Wolf-type children's introduction to jazz - and his impressive sideman work with everyone, from Mel Lewis and Benny Goodman and Elton John, to Chaka Khan, Michael Brecker and Kenny Barron, ever since he came on the scene in the 80s. But while his sideman work is impressive in its scope, Sandke is a straight-ahead swinger at heart, with aural affection for the great count Basie-associated trumpet king Buck Clayton. No tricks, ifs, ands or buts; when you hear Sandke perform with the Newport All-Stars, featuring George Wein, Howard Alden and Randy Brecker, you'll hear a master musician deal with the best of them; anytime, anywhere, blowing tower trumpet tones as strong as high and mighty as a Second City skyscraper.
The hard-driving Randy Brecker has been a trumpet force for more than three decades; as a member of Horace Silver's ensemble in the 70s, with the funk-drenched Brecker Brothers band he co-founded with his late brother, saxophonist Michael in that same period, and as a well-respected studio musician who gigged with everybody from Blood, Sweat and Tears and The Average White Band, to Bob James, Phoebe Snow and Grover Washington, Jr. With over a dozen records as a leader, including his latest, Continental Talk (In & Out, 2010), the hard-bop bred, Brecker rounds out a compelling cast of horn men that will do Gabriel proud! Brecker and Sandke perform with Wein's Newport All-Stars on the Harbor Stage on Saturday, August 7.
TICKETS & OTHER INFORMATION
All tickets for the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival are available on-line, by phone and at the Festival office at 22 Broadway in Newport Tuesdays and Fridays Noon - 4:00 pm, Thursdays 2:00 - 7:00 pm, and Saturdays 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. Stop by the Festival office to find out about special discount ticket offers, which are available for a limited time only.
General admission tickets (single-day passes only) also can be purchased in person at the Newport Visitor Information Center, located at 23 America's Cup Avenue. Festival tickets are available on-line at www.ticketmaster.com or by telephone at 1-800-745-3000. Service charges apply.
For general information, craft vendor information or to leave a message for festival staff, call the festival hotline at (401) 848-5055. For more information, log on to www.newportjazzfest.net.
# # # Newport Jazz Festival(r) is a registered service mark of George Wein and Festival Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.