Boston's esteemed Berklee College of Music, just up the road from Newport, has produced top jazz musicians for decades. Driven by the leadership of Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez, the school has expanded its jazz vision internationally, developing an initiative to recruit from and bring on tour around the world. Berklee's current Global Jazz Ambassadors are joined here by professional musician Adam Cruz, whose shimmering 2011 debut album Milestone showed off his talent both in front of the band and behind the drum kit.
Jenny Scheinman And Bill Frisell Live From Newport
The violinist Jenny Scheinman and guitarist Bill Frisell have both developed reputations for flexibility — for being able to collaborate with any musicians from country rockers to straight-ahead swing barons. Appropriately, they've been working together in bands for quite a long time now, including in Frisell's John Lennon tribute earlier in the festival. This duo performance features the two alone together, working out stripped-down versions of Scheinman's fiddle tunes.
It may be billed as a gig for the alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who is making his third Newport appearance in four years, but he would refuse complete credit. He teamed up with the French pianist Laurent Coq to co-write an album's worth of music inspired on the high-modernist Julio Cortázar novel Hopscotch — Rayuela, in the original Spanish. It calls for a cello and a trombone — Dana Leong plays both — and a drummer who can play tablas, so an obvious choice was Dan Weiss. Together, the quartet's literary and musical imagination runs wild.
What if there were lost big-band masterpieces by the great composer/arranger Gil Evans which never made it to record? In fact, there are plenty of them, according to composer/arranger Ryan Truesdell. He's culled, researched, transcribed and completed a handful of the best for Evans' 100th birthday anniversary. It helps that he's the lead copyist for composer Maria Schneider; he's borrowed much of her orchestra to record and now perform this rich, intensely-hued material.
Yuval (saxophone), Anat (reeds) and Avishai (trumpet) Cohen are siblings from Israel. They're also among the growing number of terrific jazz musicians from that country; Anat and Avishai have both had bookings for their own bands at Newport in recent years. Naturally, the three Cohens occasionally record and perform together as a band, whose original pieces and arrangements are supported by a rhythm section. It's a family reunion you won't secretly dread.
"Blues For Dandi's Orange Bull Chasing An Orange Sack"
Buoyed by a Guggenheim Fellowship, the alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa made an album in 2008 which integrated his love of South Asian music and funk and hip-hop and electronic music and kitchen sinks. He's finally getting to tour the music of the record Samdhi now, and with guitar (David Gilmore) and bass guitar (Rich Brown), it's electric, literally and figuratively.
Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.
Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:12 pm
Drummer Lewis Nash is certainly no stranger to prestigious festival stages; he's served in bands led by Betty Carter, Branford Marsalis and Tommy Flanagan. (And that was relatively early in his career, too.) So it's a great move to give the supporting cast member, who truly innovates within jazz traditions, a share of the spotlight. One of the bands he leads features the front line of Jeremy Pelt (trumpet) and Jimmy Greene (tenor sax); it's a classic quintet lineup, and it's the first on stage on day two at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
The drummer has had a busy year already, having accepted the NEA Jazz Masters award and having released a new album, Sound Travels. He continues his year-long 70th birthday celebration by assembling this ad hoc band of leading lights like guitarist Lionel Loueke and bassist Christian McBride, who are both leading their own gigs this year.
Since he came over from Cuba around the turn of the century, the phenomenally talented percussionist Pedrito Martinez has become the conguero of choice for scores of bands. And most weeks in New York City, you can see him with his own, gigging several nights a week at a Cuban restaurant south of Central Park. The Pedrito Martinez Group places him at the congas and behind a microphone, where he exhibits a certain natural charisma. And though we haven't yet heard a studio album from the band, we already know that it goes way beyond what you'd think of Afro-Cuban music and/or jazz.