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Live Reviews

Newport Jazz Festival 55: A Weekend to Savor

By Published: August 17, 2009
Lovano sitting in with pianist Michel Camilo
Michel Camilo
Michel Camilo
b.1954
piano
's trio Sunday on a rousing reconstruction of Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." An hour earlier, Lovano's UsFive opened the main stage with a rousing, adventurous set that signaled it was not to be a lazy afternoon by any means.

Michel Camilo and Joe Lovano



Wein joining bassist Christian McBride

Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
for a live taping of his forthcoming satellite radio show "Conversations with Christian." For an hour, they talked about the music, the atmosphere for jazz in the 1950s and now—and they played as a smiling, mutual-admiration duo.

Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
Dave Brubeck
1920 - 2012
piano
, who has now played Newport more than 30 times, joined Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
b.1926
vocalist
on Harold Arlen's "That Old Black Magic" after his own classic set. Bennett ended the weekend with a poignant, masterful set - and had to be aware of the appropriateness of one of his final tunes, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing?"

In Newport's case, you celebrate George Wein's resolve against great odds. And if you're a musician, you join the line to support him. Example: Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
's quintet, featuring Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
b.1934
trombone
and Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
b.1940
sax, tenor
, opened the main stage late Saturday morning—after playing in New York the previous night and having to do so again that night. Even Rhode Island's governor, Don Carcieri, showed up as the last notes faded on Sunday to thank Wein for putting Rhode Island "on the map."



The atmosphere was a bit different on Friday night, when Cohen and Alden were a hit with hard-core jazz fans.



Chaka Khan was the opening night headliner, subbing for Etta James

Etta James
Etta James
1938 - 2012
vocalist
, who cancelled last month due to illness. While the available subs may have been limited given short notice, it did not prove a wise choice. Ticket buyers who hadn't heard about the James cancellation showed up annoyed, Khan fans who were expecting to hear a reprise of her R&B hits were disappointed not to get any. Jazz fans hoping for a set of well-done jazz standards streamed out by the hundreds at mid-set. She and the George Duke
George Duke
George Duke
1946 - 2013
piano
trio never sounded in sync, other than an interesting version of the old standard "The End of a Love Affair." Otherwise it was a puzzle—with screeching often substituting for scatting.

Photo Credit

Ken Franckling


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