Jazz With Strings Attached at the Newport Jazz Festival
(Published: August 05, 2011)
Jazz ... With Strings Attached!
Jazz Journalist Eugene Holley, Jr.
Talks Strings & Things at Newport Jazz Festival
NEWPORT, RI - Saxophones, trumpeters, drummers, and keyboards; those are the traditional instruments you often hear in every era of jazz, and, most likely at every jazz festival. But along the way, the stringed instruments have also made their mark. Guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass; violinists like Ray Nance and Stephane Grappelli, and bassists like Ron Carter and Scott LaFaro, have advanced the artistic boundaries of their respective instruments. The artists appearing at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival® Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management are doing the same thing in the 21st Century.
Ever since Charlie Christian plugged in his guitar, that instrument has been on the cutting edge of every style of jazz since the thirties. And for much of his astonishing 35-year career, the New Jersey-born guitarist Al Di Meola - who's been wowing the world ever since he debuted in the seventies as a teenage phenom with the fusion group Return to Forever - has been expanding the boundaries of the plectral horizon with verve and nerve. His impossible, Mephisto-like chops are only matched by his equally impressive ability to showcase the guitar in a variety of musical settings. As you will hear when he brings his World Sinfonia ensemble -- Fausto Beccalossi on accordion, acoustic guitarist Peo Afonsi, percussionists Peter Kaszas and Gumbi Ortiz, and Victor Miranda on bass -- to the Newport stage on Saturday, August 6, 2011 for the latest stop of the group's Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody Tour (which is also the name of their latest CD). The group is a virtual six-stringed passport that's equally valid in Spanish flamenco, Moroccan rai rhythms and Turkish arabesques. This is the kind of group suited for a man who has played everything from Cuban rumba to the Argentinean tango, and with everybody from guitar legends Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin to Jan Hammer and Jaco Pastorius. Simply put, Al Di Meola literally has the world in his hands with his amazing aggregation.
Another equally impressive musical world traveler is the ubiquitous Detroit violinist Regina Carter. She's come a long way from her solo on the seventies hit "This Must be Heaven" with the R&B group Bloodstone, to her stupendous solo career working with jazz masters like Kenny Barron, Danilo Perez; R&B/hip-hop stars including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, and rock icon Billy Joel. Her jazz recordings range from a heartfelt tribute to her hometown to her award winning Paganini After a Dream, where he made an incredible pilgrimage to Italy to play the legendary violinist's violin nicknamed "The Cannon." She's gone from swing to pop, bossa nova, Latin and classical, and when she takes the Newport stage on Saturday, August 6, she reprises the jazz-meets-West Africa grooves she laid down on her latest recording Reverse Thread - a kind of musical middle passage from the New World to the Old, piloted by Carter, kora virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko, accordion master Will Holshouser, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer/percussion Alvester Garnett. What Carter and company will do is demonstrate in what the Afro-Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo said to a reporter about his ground-breaking collaboration with Dizzy Gillespie in the forties. "Dizzy no speak Spanish. I no speak English. But we both speak African!"
Bandleader/bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding not only speaks African like Ms. Carter, but she literally is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and can play bass in a myriad of moods, grooves and genres. The meteoric rise of this twenty-something, Portland born-and-bred, largely self-taught prodigy, who became the youngest instructor in the Berklee School of Music, a favorite of President Obama, and the winner of 2011 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, is already the stuff of jazz legends, thanks to her three high-selling and critically acclaimed CD's Junjo, Esperanza and Chamber Music Society. Not since Wynton Marsalis arrived on the scene three decades ago has there been an artist who has garnered the attention of the non-jazz public as she has. With her youthful, lithe appearance, and her optimistic, outgoing stage manner and her iconic Afro, it's easy to see why she's a hit. But make no mistake: she can play the bass - just ask her ex-employers Patti Austin, Pat Metheny and McCoy Tyner. So when she takes the Newport stage for two shows, Esperanza and Friends, August 6 and 7, she'll play with special guests, featuring selections especially chosen for the festival. Saturday's Friends are Anat Cohen, clarinet, saxophone; Justin Brown, drums; Leo Genovese, piano and Sara Caswell, violin. On Sunday, Esperanza's Friends are Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Uri Caine, piano; Shalini Ramaswamy, vocals; Terri Lynne Carrington, drums; and Aaron Burnette, saxophone.
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.
TICKETS & OTHER INFORMATION
Tickets for the Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management are on sale worldwide through www.ticketmaster.com and www.newportjazzfest.net as well as by phone, by mail and at the new Festival office at the Alex and Ani store at One Bowen's Wharf during limited hours. General admission tickets (single-day passes only) also can be purchased at the Newport Visitor Information Center, located at 23 America's Cup Avenue. For general information, craft vendor information or to leave a message for festival staff, call (401) 848-5055. For more information, log on to www.newportjazzfest.net.
Presenting sponsor Natixis Global Asset Management is one of the world's leading asset managers. The 2011 Newport Jazz Festival Presented by Natixis Global Asset Management also celebrates support from Alex and Ani (sponsor of the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage), Amstel Light, DownBeat, NPR Music, Jazz Times and travel partners JazzFest Travel Inc., Hyatt Regency Newport, The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Marriott Newport and Hotel Viking Newport.
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Schedule Subject to Change
The 2011 Newport Jazz Festival® is a production of Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc., a pending 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, under license from Festival Productions, Inc. and George Wein; all rights reserved
More Information: http://www.newportjazzfest.net
Carolyn McClair Public Relations