“We now have so many music schools graduating people who major in jazz, and there’s amazing talent out there. I want to give these young people exposure and be a part of what they’re bringing to music while still respecting the jazz that I love. I want Newport and what I do to relate to the music that’s happening now and what all these young and talented people are contributing.” —George Wein, Chairman, Newport Festivals Foundation
NEWPORT, RI: Jazz is an evolutionary music that evolves in real time, and there is nothing as satisfying as watching the evolution of young musicians dedicated to mastering this American art form. For six decades, the Newport Jazz Festival – now presented by Natixis Global Asset Management – has been the premiere showcase for aspiring artists who evolve into the jazz masters of the future. Once again, Newport is where the improvisational artistry of the 21st Century’s swinging new stars will shine.
No young jazz wunderkind has shined more brightly in the last few years than the Grammy-winning, Portland-born bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding. Her bop-friendly basslines, English, Spanish and Portuguese vocals and her fluency in adapting and adopting world music influences to her unique improvisational aesthetic, have made her the most celebrated crossover jazz phenom of her generation, who counts Prince, Wayne Shorter, Milton Nascimento and President Obama as fans. She comes to Newport on Saturday, August 3, with her band, Radio Music Society, and will perform selections from her latest, Grammy Award winning CD, which featured legendary artists Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette and Billy Hart. The CD proved that the jazz tinge can be heard on pop radio, as evidenced by Spalding’s renditions of songs by Wayne Shorter and Stevie Wonder. If you find yourself dancing while you’re singing the solos, then Ms. Spalding’s mission will be a success.
“I think people who heavily embrace the music they grew up with find a larger audience outside of jazz, ” Spalding told Ebony.com, “because there's a commonality there of what's familiar there, musically.”
Spalding’s generational compatriot, the Houston-born, pianist/composer Robert Glasper and his exceptional combo, The Experiment – which features the blazing alto saxophonist/vocoder-backed-vocalist Casey Benjamin with bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Chris Dave – also enjoyed an incredible amount of exposure on the airwaves with “Black Radio, ” his Grammy Award winning, jazz/R&B/hip-hop recording that ingeniously infused the feeling of jazz with the beyond category artistry of rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), vocalist Lalah Hathaway and bassist Me’Shell Nedegeocello on his excellent covers of diverse songs by Sade, Mongo Santamaria and Nirvana. So when Glasper takes the Newport stage on Saturday, August 3, jazz meets hip-hop on equal footing.
“I’m a hip-hop musician and I’m a jazz musician, ” Glapser told Philadelphia Weekly. “Hip-Hop is the daughter of jazz: without jazz, there would probably be no hip-hop: they’re related, which is why it’s so easy to blend them. But at the same time they both take two different disciplines [and] you have to learn each discipline.”
Another southern pianist (and melodica player), Jon Batiste, brings his New Orleans-bred, musical gumbo to the foreground to spice up this New England venue. The scion of a musical family, this classically-trained ivory tickler has gained an incredible amount of seasoned jazz cred well beyond his years. He’s a graduate of the famed New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and Juilliard; has performed in 40 countries, and has shared the stage with an impressive array of musicians including Prince, Jimmy Buffett, Harry Connick Jr., Roy Hargrove, Cassandra Wilson and Wynton Marsalis, and was recently featured at Jazz at Lincoln Center performing a heartfelt rendition of John Lewis’ jazz classic, “Django.” He has released a number of well-crafted CDs, including “Times In New Orleans, ” and “Live In New York, ” and two EP’s, “The Amazing Jon Batiste” and “In The Night.” He is a “Movado Future Legend” award recipient, a Steinway Performing Artist, and is co-director and music curator at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Batiste comes to Newport on Sunday, August 4, with his Stay Human band, an ensemble that effortlessly plays the jazz tradition in transition, and is known to literally take it to the streets. He performed at the opening night of last year’s Festival, sharing the stage with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Keyboardist Hiromi, Japan’s most accomplished jazz export since Toshiko Akiyoshi, is a discovery of the great Oscar Peterson and protégé of Ahmad Jamal. She’s another under-40 jazz musician who is putting her jazz-cred to good use exploring popular genres. Hiromi returns to Newport on Sunday, August 4, hot on the heels of her latest CD, “Move, ” a nine-track chronicle of the musical inventions and dimensions the pianist went through during one particular day. The CD features bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, and investigates and incorporates rock and classical themes into her powerful and pristine pianism that is welcome in the conservatory, on the bandstand and on the iPod. At Newport Hiromi: The Trio Project features Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Smith.
Like Hiromi, the guitarist and Wesleyan University and The New School graduate Mary Halvorson is the kind of multi-directional musician that typifies the jazz artist of this era. She has been called the “most forward-thinking guitarist working right now.” Her eclectic work has been applauded at performances with Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Curtis Hasselbring, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Marc Ribot, Tom Rainey and Matthew Welch. Halvorson’s bandmates include her working quintet including bassist John Hébert, drummer Ches Smith, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon. She also co-leads a chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the progressive rock band People and the ensembles Thumbscrew, Reverse Blue and Secret Keeper. She comes to the Newport stage on Saturday, August 3, after the release of her latest recording “Saturn Sings, ” with a signature sound that swings locally and globally. “I like taking left turns and twists in the music, ” Halvorson told the website The Jazz Session, “but at the same time, I want it to be coherent.”
Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda’s Afro-Indian ethereal, El arpa llanera approach makes him the most distinctive proponent of that instrument since the great Dorothy Ashby. He’s worked with a wide variety of musicians, including Bob Belden, John Scofield and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Paquito D’Rivera. His latest CD, “Double Portion, ” features duets with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, saxophonist Miguel Zenón and the Brazilian mandolinist Hamilton de Holanda. Castañeda’s Newport appearance on Saturday, August 3, features his trio, Marshall Gilkes, trombone, and Dave Silliman, drum/percussion. Castañeda’s wife, South American poet/vocalist Andrea Tierra, joins the band as a special guest. The music from Castañeda and company will remind us that jazz is the music of the Americas.
The great African-American poet Langston Hughes could have been speaking for these talented individuals when he wrote the poem, “Youth” during the Harlem Renaissance, “We have tomorrow, bright before us like a flame.” George Wein and the Newport Jazz Festival have stoked countless flames, and following the mission of the Newport Festivals Foundation, the annual event will continue to be the proving ground for the best musicians of today and tomorrow.
The Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Global Asset Management features Natalie Cole and the Bill Charlap Trio with special guest Freddy Cole, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino (194 Bellevue Avenue) on Friday, August 2, at 8:00 pm. The festival continues on Saturday, August 3, on three unique stages from 10:30 am – 7:00 pm at Fort Adams State Park (90 Fort Adams Drive). The roster includes Wayne Shorter’s 80th Birthday Celebration: Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring special guest Herbie Hancock and Danilo Perez, John Patitucci & Brian Blade; Marcus Miller; Esperanza Spalding - Radio Music Society; Michel Camilo Sextet; Terence Blanchard Quintet; Robert Glasper Experiment; Gregory Porter; Edmar Castañeda; Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band; Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers; Bill Charlap Trio with guests Bob Wilber and Anat Cohen; Mary Halvorson Quintet; Rez Abbasi Trio, among others.
On Sunday, August 4, the music continues at Fort Adams at 10:30 am with Chick Corea & The Vigil with Christian McBride, Tim Garland, Marcus Gilmore and Charles Altura; Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra; Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band featuring Jaleel Shaw, Martin Bejerano and David Wong; Dizzy Gillespie™ Big Band under the direction of Paquito D’Rivera; Hiromi: The Trio Project with Anthony Jackson and Steve Smith; Joshua Redman Quartet; Jim Hall Quartet featuring Julian Lage; Jon Batiste & Stay Human; Dee Alexander: Songs That My Mother Loved; The Dirty Dozen Brass Band; Lew Tabackin Quartet with Randy Brecker, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash; Donny McCaslin Group; Steve Coleman Projects: Five Elements, Talea Ensemble and Duo with Tyshawn Sorey; David Gilmore & Numerology featuring Claudia Acuña, Miguel Zenón, Luis Perdomo, Christian McBride, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Mino Cinelu; and others.
TICKETS & OTHER INFORMATION
Tickets for the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Global Asset Management are on sale now at newportjazzfest.net, by phone and by mail.