Are you a music-lover? Looking for your next escape?
How about the Newport’s Jazz Festival held each August in Rhode Islands’s sailing capital?
Here’s a little taste…
The Newport Jazz Festival takes place at Fort Adams, a quick ferry ride out into the harbor to one of the early fortifications along the eastern seaboard. While the festival may take place at a onetime military installation, the musical performances are less a battle of the bands than a colossal jam session. This not to say they don’t bring their top chops to the venerable venue. After all, their heroes played here: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coletran, Billie and Ella (in the same year no less), and Chick Corea. The festival has always had a wide latitude in welcoming musicians from other genres and two of these were Judy Garland and Muddy Waters.
Though purists are known to object, jazz often draws from many traditions and from different times. That was evident at the 2014 festival. It began on Friday night and it swang and jumped and strummed and improvised until Sunday evening. The 2014 festival opened with a Friday evening tribute by Dee Bridgewater to the untouchable Billie. Over the weekend, the three stages offered sets ranging from the old guard to the latest vanguard. Back in Newport in the evenings, you will not have a hard time finding some of the musicians – more iikely you will struggle to decide which club to go into.
The 2014 festival called to mind another famous three-day music festival: drenching rains turned the grounds into a bog. As we huddled under our umbrellas, holding our beer cups out of the sheeting rain, we laughed that our beloved dog, Patrick, was lounging back in our Newport on a dry couch by a gas fireplace in our B&B. We were still having the much better day!
There was nothing sodden about the music. A highlight was Trombone Shorty, who comes from New Orleans and reflects both the serious dedication to his instrument and the flamboyance of that city. Certainly his showmanship subtracts nothing from his musicianship. His set was ebullient and with a liberal helping of funk that made the crowd forget all about the soaking.
Another of jazz’ new generation, who aside from youth and talent has little in common with Trombone Shorty, was Vijay Iyer, who performed on Sunday afternoon. He is a deservedly lauded pianist and composer. His syncopated chords produce a hypnotic rhythm. In a performance full of surprises , he played “Open City, a remarkable piece based on a book of the same name. It held the audience spellbound.
One of the last acts of the weekend paid tribute to the incomparable Django Reinhardt, taking listeners back to to the 1930’s and 1940’s. The set was worthy of the guitar great and provided a superb coda to the festival.
It did what one would hope of a closing act: it left the audience wanting a little more.
Thanks to Daniel Meara, my resident jazz aficionado, for sharing this piece on Newport.
Ready for your musical getaway?
This month welcomes the Cup of Tae festival in Ireland, the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orelands, and Coachella in sunny California.
Pick your favorite and let Rare Finds Travel create an adventure that you will not soon forget!