Aug 4, 2011
Two of highlights of the New England (if not American) jazz scene take place this weekend in Newport, Rhode Island and Litchfield, Connecticut. Two weekend-long festivals present devotees and novices alike with an embarrassment of riches.
On the shore at Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island is the Newport Jazz Festival, I can’t begin the name all the acts that will be on the two stages on August 6th and 7th, but among my favorites will be pianist Michel Camillo’s “Mano a Mano” trio; saxophonist Grace Kelly joined by mentor Phil Woods (pictured above); the latest projects by violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Al DiMeola, saxophonist Joshua Redman and bassist Esperanza Spalding, and festival regulars like Dave Brubeck (with his sons), Wynton Marsalis, and Joey DeFrancesco. Trombone Shorty will bring the funk, and Steve Coleman will take part in a saxophone masters summit with Ravi Coltrane and Miguel Zenon. You can hear the latest tracks from Ms. Carter, Ms. Kelly, and Mr. Coleman by clicking their names here. Should you be unable to make the festival, local NPR affiliates will be carrying the performances on radio and by streaming audio on their website.
Northwestern Connecticut ain’t the glamorous shores of Newport, but the 16th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival has a lineup to rival its older cousin. Vijay Iyer, the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Trombone Shorty (yes, again!), artist in residence Matt Wilson, Dena DeRose, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joe Lovano’s Nonet and the Jimmy Heath Big Band will grace the stage.
I have a complaint. How is anyone able to appreciate two such incredible events when they are scheduled against one another? Would it be so difficult for the presenters to check one another’s calendar and try for separate weekends? Imagine the joy of Newport on the 6-7 and Litchfield on the 13-14, leading into the season ending Tanglewood Jazz Festival three weeks later? Give a fan a break!