Monday, July 19, 2010
Guitarists Are Choice Picks at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival Set for August 6 -8 in Newport, RI
Freelance Writer Eugene Holley, Jr. takes a look at a new generation of guitarists
NEWPORT, RI - In Oklahoma in the 1930s, Charlie Christian plugged in, and was the first to swing the body electric. Half a world away, an inventive Belgian Gypsy with a battle-scarred hand named Django Reinhardt put his percussive, six-string citizenship on his axe. A couple of decades later, Wes Montgomery's thumb unfurled new chordal colors. And today, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Pat Martino - contrary to the manufacturers of those video games - are the real guitar heroes. Today, well into the change of the century, The CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival showcases Rez Abbasi and Julian Lage: a new generation of guitarists, who have mastered the plectral heritage of those aforementioned masters, while elaborating and expanding on jazz by adding Afro-Latin, classical and world genres into their mix.
Surprise is the modus operandi of the Pakistan-born/LA-raised guitarist Rez Abbasi (b. 1965). Under his control the guitar is a six-stringed, caravanserai where Asia and the Americas converge, under his impressive and inclusive improvisational imprimatur. He came to New York in the 80s, armed with a soulful style that beautifully blended the best of Pat Metheny, Bill Frissell and Jim Hall, with a comprehensive knowledge of his ancestral homeland region's sub-continental syncopations and song forms, which are on ample display on his latest and sixth CD as a leader, Things to Come (Sunnyside), which, The New York Times wrote, "was a strong statement ... with a taste for fluid introspection and slippery fusions." And DownBeat included it in its Recordings of the Decade list. When Abassi and his quicksilver quartet featuring Bill Ware on vibes, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Eric McPherson takes the stage on Saturday, August 7, at Fort Adams State Park, you will hear a fantastic fusion of East and West that points to the future, as it respects the past.
Bay Area-born Julian Lage (b. 1988) is a back-to-the-future phenom. He burst on the scene at the tender age of eight when he jammed with Santana and Pat Metheny as guitar prodigy, and was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, Jules at Eight in 1997, and worked with Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Taylor Eigsti and Bela Fleck. Lage is something of a 21st century guitar polymath, in the sense that he applies his elegant, guitar lines, which unabashedly echoes the walking-on-eggshell solo simplicity of the great Ella Fitzgerald accompanist Joe Pass, in a number of intriguing musical contexts. There's ample aura evidence of Lage's all-world musicality on his major label debut, Sounding Point (Emarcy), which embraces Arabic modalities, Miles Davis, Neil Hefti and Elliot Smith. In a review of Sounding Point, The Washington Post wrote that Lage is "... a jazz newcomer more interested in elegance than in flash, more interested in instrumental storytelling than in virtuosity," which will be confirmed when he takes the stage with his group on Saturday, August 7. It will be like watching the birth of a new star dawning in the jazz galaxy.
Also, check out Howard Alden's splendid, full-bodied tone that always effortlessly swings in-the-pocket, when he performs with George Wein's Newport All-Stars on Saturday, August 7, at Fort Adams State Park.
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. The CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival features Herbie Hancock; Chick Corea Freedom Band with Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride & Roy Haynes; Ahmad Jamal; Wynton Marsalis Quintet with special guest Dave Brubeck; Chris Botti; Jamie Cullum; Maria Schneider Orchestra; Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with special guest Jon Faddis and many more.
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.
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.
# # #
Newport Jazz Festival(r) is a registered service mark of George Wein and Festival Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.