Newport Jazz Festival 55: A Weekend to Savor
Lovano sitting in with pianist Michel Camilo's trio Sunday on a rousing reconstruction of Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." An hour earlier, Lovano's UsFive opened the main stage with a rousing, adventurous set that signaled it was not to be a lazy afternoon by any means.
Michel Camilo and Joe Lovano
Wein joining bassist Christian McBride for a live taping of his forthcoming satellite radio show "Conversations with Christian." For an hour, they talked about the music, the atmosphere for jazz in the 1950s and nowand they played as a smiling, mutual-admiration duo.
Dave Brubeck, who has now played Newport more than 30 times, joined Tony Bennett on Harold Arlen's "That Old Black Magic" after his own classic set. Bennett ended the weekend with a poignant, masterful set - and had to be aware of the appropriateness of one of his final tunes, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing?"
In Newport's case, you celebrate George Wein's resolve against great odds. And if you're a musician, you join the line to support him. Example: Cedar Walton's quintet, featuring Curtis Fuller and Lew Tabackin, opened the main stage late Saturday morningafter playing in New York the previous night and having to do so again that night. Even Rhode Island's governor, Don Carcieri, showed up as the last notes faded on Sunday to thank Wein for putting Rhode Island "on the map."
The atmosphere was a bit different on Friday night, when Cohen and Alden were a hit with hard-core jazz fans.
Chaka Khan was the opening night headliner, subbing for Etta James, who cancelled last month due to illness. While the available subs may have been limited given short notice, it did not prove a wise choice. Ticket buyers who hadn't heard about the James cancellation showed up annoyed, Khan fans who were expecting to hear a reprise of her R&B hits were disappointed not to get any. Jazz fans hoping for a set of well-done jazz standards streamed out by the hundreds at mid-set. She and the George Duke trio never sounded in sync, other than an interesting version of the old standard "The End of a Love Affair." Otherwise it was a puzzlewith screeching often substituting for scatting.