Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

27

Newport Jazz Festival 2017

Timothy J. O'Keefe By

Sign in to view read count
Newport Jazz Festival
Fort Adams State Park
Newport, RI
August 5, 2017

The soggy, gray blanket that was the Newport sky wrung itself out on the crowd that had gathered for the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Global Asset Management, but the good news was it only rained on the audience for about an hour. Danilo Pérez's piano oozed melancholic, broken chords, while Avishai Cohen's trumpet filled loose spaces in the music with long, ringing notes. The horn suddenly screeched—fast and intense. Perez adeptly played more melodic on the set opener "Jessica's Day," a Quincy Jones arrangement for Dizzy Gillespie. Clever rhythms, plush sounds, and jerking horns played to the Latin feel of another Gillespie number, "Cubana Be Cubana Bop." Gillespie, widely known for bebop innovations, was also part of a movement that blended bebop ideas with Cuban rhythms and gave rise to Afro-Cuban Jazz. Perez's set, dedicated to Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, also included "Pannocia," "Off Minor," and "Afro Blue."

With a crushing blow, capable of knocking most people flat, the Vijay Iyer Sextet opened with "Poles." A set of liquid sound that possessed the ability to contour to unseen containers, the music moved in waves—dramatic, free. At times slow and explorative, with less connections to harmony, the thematic movements featured climbing progressions that gracefully swooned, rather than abruptly fell, from its peaks. Most of the set contained music from the band's upcoming album Far From Over (ECM, 2017).

A hulking mass of sound, comprised of nearly 20 musicians, the Christian McBride Big Band played round tones that were warm and bouncy. Opening with "Walk On," McBride stood front and center, navigating from a musical cockpit, on a set that featured orchestration and arrangement. "Newport, what's happening? What it do?" he asked the crowd. "You're gonna feel a lot of soul." The band included McBride's arrangement of "Thermo," a Freddie Hubbard note from his days with Art Blakey. McBride's bass emitted thick, vibrating notes that buzzed among riffing horns. "That trumpet lick, that's a hard one," McBride joked. "I can picture Freddie Hubbard laughing." Throughout the set, McBride directed the flow of sounds, waving his arms to indicate the direction of the music, and pointing out members of the bandstand to rise and solo. Always jovial, the bassist appeared to enjoy the sounds, which included the James Brown inspired "Brother Mister," "Used Ta could," and "In A Hurry," among others.

The clean, relaxed sounds of Benny Golson's Quartet provided an intimate set from authoritative musicians. Dense and impenetrable, Buster Williams's bass churned the foundation for Golson's lyrical horn on the melodic opener "Horizon Ahead." A connection to a magical era in jazz, Golson spoke about playing at Storyville in Boston—a club owned by George Wein, who was influential in founding the Newport Jazz Festival. Golson explained that it was at Storyville where a musical idea occurred to him. He played the music for Dizzy Gillespie, who decided to record it. "The song means absolutely nothing," Golson chuckled, as the band worked into "Whisper Not." On the stylish, slow tempo theme, Golson's saxophone sang above Mike LeDonne's melodic piano lines, and the band improvised to the familiar blues structure.

"When I take the chair, you know I got quite a bit to tell," Golson told to the audience, making himself comfortable. Reflecting, he spoke of particular performance with Dizzy Gillespie at the Apollo Theatre. Walter Davis Jr. rushed in bearing the dreadful news that Clifford Brown, a young, promising jazz musician, was killed in a car wreck—his life tragically cut short. Golson recalled that when the musicians took the stage ..."we were playing that loud, happy music...and the band played with tears running down our cheeks. We loved Clifford. He was only 25 years old."

Saddened and moved by the events, Golson decided to write a song "to help people remember that bright, young trumpet player." Unsure of what he crafted, he sought out Dizzy Gillespie. "Sometimes you're too close a thing," Golson explained. "That's beautiful, what is it?" Dizzy inquired upon hearing the song, reaffirming Golson's effort. Dizzy, along with numerous other jazz musicians, including Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, and Sonny Rollins would go on to record the song Golson initially doubted. "What would have happened if Clifford Brown had not been killed?" Golson asked as the audience as he began a stirring rendition of "I remember Clifford." Golson smiled and listened to the musicians play on the sorrowful ballad, as the hot sun broke through the sky's remaining gray clouds.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read We Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center" Live Reviews Bobby Hutcherson tribute at SFJAZZ Center
by David Becker
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Kronos Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Jeff Lorber Fusion at Nighttown" Live Reviews Jeff Lorber Fusion at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "E. J. Strickland Quintet At Scullers Jazz Club" Live Reviews E. J. Strickland Quintet At Scullers Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "Michael Lington At Blue Note Napa" Live Reviews Michael Lington At Blue Note Napa
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: June 18, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!