Every summer, typically around this time in August, the Newport Jazz Festival becomes a mecca for jazz lovers and people that enjoy outdoor festivals.
George Wein started the Newport Jazz Festival many years ago and except for last year, produced the festival every year. Almost at the last minute, CareFusion became the corporate sponsor which helped successfully launch this year’s show.
Erica and I had the opportunity to volunteer to help at the festival, both Friday night and Saturday during the day. The work wasn’t that hard and we were able to see many performances for free.
This year’s Jazz Festival started on Friday night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Tennis Hall of Fame is a beautiful facility right on the famous Bellevue Avenue in Newport where many of the large mansions are located. The Howard Alden/Anat Cohen Quartet kicked the evening off. Chaka Khan and The George Duke Trio were the final performances on a lovely evening with an almost full moon peaking through some high clouds, perfect temperature and an enthusiastic crowd.
We took a water taxi on Saturday morning to Ft. Adams State Park where the main festival was held for the weekend. This is a great ride because you can see, up front and personal, all the large boats, yachts and ships that dock in Newport Harbor during the summer.
The day was lovely; blue skies, mid 70’s temperature, low humidity. The grounds around the old fort quickly filled up with festival goers anxiously awaiting the first performances. We worked near the main stage so we were able to see five main performers; Cedar Walton Trio with Lew Tabackin & Curtis Fuller, Esperanza Spalding, The Joshua Redman Double Trio, Branford Marsalis Quartet and Mos Def & the Watermelon Syndicate.
Two other smaller stages hosted a number of other acts; Vijay Iyer Trio, Christian McBride Trio, Vandermark 5, Jane Monheit, Hiromi’s SonicBloom, North Carolina Central Jazz Combo with Joey Calderazzo, Claudia Acuna, Branford Marsalis – Joey Calderazzo Duo, North Caroline Central Big Band and the Miquel Zenon Quartet.
Overall it was a fantastic day; great music, good food, some cool vendors selling their wares, interesting people, wonderful weather and a relaxing time.