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2018's Newport Jazz Festival juggle nears

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The 2018 edition of the Newport Jazz Festival's three-day music marathon has quite the lineup in store at Fort Adams State Park August 3-5 With all sizes of ensembles and a range of mostly jazz styles, the event offers more than 60 musical groups on its four stages.

Tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd turned 80 in March- and that significant birthday celebration will continue at Newport, where he will be featured with a different group each day. On Friday, he appears with his Sangam trio with tabla player Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland. Saturday features Lloyd's New Quartet with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Ruben Rogers and Harland. Lloyd wraps up the birthday fete on Sunday with his Americana-styled band with singer Lucinda Williams, guitarists Marvin Sewall and Stuart Mathis, Moran, Rogers and Harland.

Every day's lineup is strong and diverse, all of them featuring both Newport regulars and artists making their debut in 2018. Guitarist Pat Metheny's quartet and singer Jose James' Bill Withers tribute project perform at Newport Casino/the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the upscale Friday night opener and again on Saturday at Fort Adams.

But I want to take a closer look at the offerings on Sunday, August 5, which is the one day I'll be able to attend this year. This will be the 38th straight year that I've been in Newport to write about and photograph the Jazz and/or Folk Festivals since 1981. That's when founding producer George Wein brought the event back to the resort city after a 10-year absence.

Sunday's lineup includes the aforementioned Charles Lloyd & Friends, singers Gregory Porter and Jazzmeia Horn, who is making her Newport debut. Horn won 2015's Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition and the so-called Sassy Award at 2013's Sarah Vaughan Vocal Competition. Saxophonist Melissa Aldana, the first female instrumental winner of the Monk Competition, back in 2013, makes her Newport debut as part of Artemis, an all-female band with singer Cecile McLorin Salvant, pianist Renee Rosnes, reed player Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller. A powerhouse group indeed.

Canadian soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett, back in Newport for the first time since 2002, appears with her all-woman sextet Maqueque, whose roster consists of Cuban singer/instrumentalists. Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa is also on the Newport bill with his trio.

While its members have appeared at Newport in a wide variety of different bands in past years, 2018 also marks the festival's debut for the Black Art Jazz Collective, which performs original music inspired by the lives and work of Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. Du Bois and Barack Obama, among others. The band includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, drummer Johnathan Blake, bassist Vicente Archer, trombonist James Burton III and pianist Xavier Davis.

The Sunday lineup also includes George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, the British jazz trio GoGo Penguin, saxophonist James Carter's organ trio, flutist Nicole Mitchell's Dusty Wings project, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's Origami Harvest, drummer Nate Smith & Kinfolk, and the Massachusetts Jazz Educators Association big band led this day by Darcy James Argue. The latter's Secret Society, an 18-piece jazz orchestra, has been a frequent Newport visitor over the past decade.

The intimate indoor Storyville stage on Sunday will feature pianists Bill Charlap, Micah Thomas and Helen Sung; and two duos: trumpeter/vocalist Jennifer Hartswick & guitarist Nick Cassarino, and pianist Matthew Whitaker & bassist Jake Leckie.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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