Newport Jazz Festival Saxophone Summit!


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NEWPORT, RI—Jazz is the ultimate music of collaboration—or, as they say in today's younger generation, “collab." For six decades, George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival® —now presented by Natixis Global Asset Management—has been the scene of many exciting and historic mash-ups featuring saxophonists. This year's edition of the festival exhibits an unprecedented array of sax masters old and new.

Tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane could have done it the easy way; he could have cashed in on being the son of John and Alice Coltrane, and debut on the scene before he was musically mature. But, he worked on his singular sound, took his time, and released a handful of well-crafted CDs, and now, takes to the Newport stage with his quartet on Sunday, August 7, as a musician well-versed in his father's idiom, along with the contributions of all of the saxophone titans.

One of those 20th Century sax masters who hired Ravi Coltrane as a sideman was the highly iconoclastic and influential Chicago-born alto saxophonist/composer/bandleader Steve Coleman, who led the Brooklyn-based aggregation known as MBASE during the so-called Young lions period of the 1980's, and single-handedly created a jazz genre characterized his odd-metered, and uniquely textured compositions that embraced post-bop, Asian, Afro-Cuban and African music. On Saturday, August 6, Coleman and his Five Elements step on the Newport stage with their patented brand of cosmo-quantum brand of collective improvisation heard on their latest release, The Mancy of Sound.

The Puerto Rican alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, a profound and impassioned improviser, whose jazz-laced explorations into the vivid and varied inventions and dimensions of Latin music earned him the prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008, blows into Newport on Sunday, performing selections from his forthcoming CD, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook. It features the music of Puerto Rican composers Rafael Hernandez, Bobby Capo, Tite Curet, Pedro Flores, and Sylvia Rexach, with Zenón's quartet, augmented by a 10-piece wind ensemble conducted by the Argentinean keyboardist/composer Guillermo Klein. Zenón and company will play island music with Afro rhythms and Hispanic melodies that span from San Juan to Sugar Hill.

But it gets even better! Those aforementioned musicians will join forces for a historic collaboration—A Meeting of Saxophone Masters featuring Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, and Miguel Zenón on Sunday for a special set, which figures to be one of the most anticipated events on the jazz calendar.

The Festival's “saxual" magic continues throughout the weekend. The transcendentally-hip tenor sax master Charles Lloyd and his Sangam combo teams up with Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, with James Farm drummer Eric Harland to dispense summer-friendly, Lester Young/Traneish love vibes on Sunday. The blazing Filipino-American, Illinois-born alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, fronts the irrepressible unit Mostly Other People Do The Killing on Saturday. The forward-thinking, Indian-American alto saxophonist Rudresh Manhanthappa, a master of improvisation; American and sub-continental, and his Chicago counterpart Bunky Green, a legendary educator whose learning didn't stand in the way of his swinging, bring their dynamic duo to Newport on Sunday. And the 19-year-old, alto saxophonist/singer Grace Kelly from Massachusetts makes a triumphant return to Newport on Saturday, building on her spectacular, sizzling set last year. This year she brings the mythic alto sax giant Phil Woods—who recorded with her on her latest CD, Man With the Hat—to the bandstand. And, it promises to be a masterclass that she and the audience won't soon forget!

Produced by George Wein and the Newport Festivals Foundation, the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management takes over Newport, RI, August 5-7 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport Casino and Fort Adams State Park. The Festival features Wynton Marsalis and Michael Feinstein “Come Fly with Me" with Special Guest Joe Negri on Friday, August 5. On Saturday August 6, don't miss Wynton Marsalis; Esperanza Spalding and Friends; Hiromi; Regina Carter's Reverse Thread; Al Di Meola World Sinfonia Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody Tour 2011 with Special Guest Gonzalo Rubalcaba; Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Randy Weston's African Rhythms Trio; Michel Camilo “Mano a Mano with Giovanni Hidalgo and John Benitez; Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet; Joey DeFrancesco Trio; Grace Kelly with guest Phil Woods; Steve Coleman and Five Elements; Mostly Other People Do the Killing; and New Black Eagle Jazz Band.

On Sunday, August 7, catch Angélique Kidjo; James Farm with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman and Eric Harland; Charles Lloyd's Sangam featuring Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland; Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Hiromi: The Trio Project featuring Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips; Mingus Big Band; Ravi Coltrane Quartet; Esperanza Spalding and Friends; Brubeck Brothers Quartet with Special Guest Dave Brubeck; Ravi Coltrane Quartet; Apex: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green; Miguel Zenón presents the Puerto Rican Songbook with conductor/arranger Guillermo Klein; John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble; Avishai Cohen's Triveni with special guest Anat Cohen; Berklee College of Music: Mario Castro Quintet; Plus a special bonus set: A Meeting of Saxophone Masters featuring Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane and Miguel Zenón.

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