All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

11

Newport Jazz Festival 2018: Part 2-2

Timothy J. O'Keefe By

Sign in to view read count
Part 1 | Part 2

Newport Jazz Festival
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI
August 5, 2018

From the first spongy thwack that bounced off the conga drum, a sticky humidity clung about Narragansett peninsula while the sounds of Herlin Riley's New York Havana Connection oozed from the stage. The set featured numerous pieces from New Directions (Mack Avenue Records, 2016), and saw varying tempo changes and multi-rhythmic cycles spark the synergy among band members that inspire musical improvisation.

"This is our version of 'Night in Tunisia,'" Riley said to the audience. He described Dizzy Gillespie as one of the masters of the music, and the band performed a compelling version of the well-known song that explored heavy rhythms.

On "New Direction," a slow moving piece and the title track from the album, Marcus Strickland's bass clarinet brushed in wide strokes, and painted picturesque scenes. "Shake off the Dust" offered expressive lines of horn-inspired soul while the set closed with the danceable sing-along "Tutti Ma."

The Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MEMA), under the direction of Darcy James Argue, consisted of an 18-piece band. Comprised of high school students and recent graduates, they performed a mix of original compositions and covers.

Breezy horns moved in waves, repeating like a pendulum, on "Arrival of the Pegasus." Anchored by electric bass the song twisted and floated with textural enhancements from the vibraphone.

"It's such a pleasure to make music with these young musicians," Argue said to the audience, before queuing the band for Duke Ellington's "Sepia Panorama." Muted horns puffed and swooped, filling the air, and the crowd cheered as Ryan Park bent and sheared notes on a tenor sax solo.

The music raced and swerved on Argue's "Fung Wah Ride," an original composition inspired by a bus line notorious for breakdowns. The climbing sounds and cataclysmic curves abruptly ended on a symphonic two-note punch, emblematic of a crash.

Jazzmeia Horn fronted a trio of intricate interplay, fueled by horn-like singing and scat vocals, all wrapped around messages of social issues in a way that's so beautiful it's easy to miss the seriousness of the message. Clear, crisp vocals moved with the music, rising and crashing with an energetic motion that smashed with the force of a blacksmith's hammer.

The swinging and emotional performance ended with a standing ovation. "You may be seated," Horn instructed the audience, beginning a gospel-infused version of Art Blakey's "Moanin'" to close the set that featured music from A Social Call (Prestige Records, 2017).

"Newport, yeah man, you made my dream come true today," Horn told the crowd. "Seriously, I've dreamed of this day."

Foraging sounds from varied sources, including electronica, jazz, and hints of classical, GoGo Penguin brought a fresh interpretation to the trio format of bass, drum, and piano. Their lengthy explorations comprised of circular movements, variations on melodic ideas, and reintroductions of main themes. Melding cooler tones with electronic effects and elements of rock music, the band blurred genres on songs such as "All Res," "Unspeakable World," and "One Percent."

Drawing from seemingly disparate musical influences, Ambrose Akinmusire's Origami Harvest provided an amalgamation of sounds. Combining jazz ideas, four-piece classical string arrangements, hip hop drum beats, with elements of rap and spoken word, these abrupt stylistic changes provided the foundation for the most eclectic performance of the day.

The sound check for the James Carter Organ Trio was as much a part of the actual performance as the ensuing set itself. Who knew a sound check could be so much fun?

Wearing a peach colored suit, Carter danced to the swirling sounds of Gerard Gibbs's Hammond organ, filling the performance tent inside the stone walls of Fort Adams with voluminous sound, and raising cheers from the crowd. "Love the crowd," Carter said with a laugh, his charismatic presence emitting from the stage.

Gibbs walked a bass line on the low end of the organ. Carter leaned way off the stage, to hear the sounds just like the audience would. "Yeah, that's close enough," he said with a nod and a smile. As he did, the audience playfully taunted and jeered. "Newport, back up in the fort, how ya'll be?" Carter countered the audience's banter. "It's always wonderful to be saturated by ya'll presence."

Carter dedicated the performance to Hamiet Bluiett, a member of the World Saxophone Quartet recovering from a stroke. "That's one of my musical dads," he explained.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Borneo Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Borneo Jazz Festival 2018
by Wolfgang Konig
Published: May 26, 2018
Read "Molde International Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Molde International Jazz Festival 2018
by Luca Vitali
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Monterey Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Monterey Jazz Festival 2017
by Josef Woodard
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Robinson Morse's Sound of Mind Featuring Peter Apfelbaum at FlynnSpace" Live Reviews Robinson Morse's Sound of Mind Featuring Peter...
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017