Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Newport balances legends and newcomers

With all-time greats Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock as headliners, the 2008 Newport Jazz Festival (August 8-10, Newport RI) lays its usual claim to the history and tradition of jazz, but the program announced today places significant emphasis on modern directions in the music.

"There are some acts that are favorites from the festival's past, but then half the fun of Newport Jazz has always been the discovery of the next generation of musicians through stand alone shows and great collaborations," said Tom Shepard, CEO of The Festival Network, in a press release.

The Festival Network is the successor company to Festival Productions Inc., the long-time producer of the festival. The legendary George Wein who created the festival makes an appearance on the main stage playing piano with the Newport All-Stars, but his control of the event has been passed on to the new management.

The appearance by Sonny Rollins is notable since he has not appeared at Newport for many years. Other renowned players set for 2008 include Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland and the Charlie Haden/Ethan Iverson/Paul Motian trio.

The popular smooth-jazz trumpet player Chris Botti is the third headliner, closing the main stage on Saturday and anchoring the Friday night opening concert at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Saturday and Sunday schedule takes place as usual at Fort Adams State Park in Newport.

Among less traditional fare, there will be a strong R&B flavor with Ledisi, Soulive with Fred Wesley and the Anthony Hamilton Blues Project. Lionel Loueke Trio brings in an African influence, while the Marco Benevento Trio with Chris Potter crosses over in a rock direction. Lesser known entries playing more traditional jazz styles include Empirical, Guillermo Klein y Los Gauchos, and Warren Vache Quintet.

One yet-to-be-named act will be chosen by the general public from ensembles submitting audition tracks to www.ourstage.com/go/newportjazz. Tickets go on sale May 8 at the Festival Network website.

The full lineup follows:

Friday, August 8, 2008 - 8:00pm
International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino
Chris Botti

Saturday, August 9, 2008 - 11:30am - 7:00pm
Fort Adams State Park

JVC Jazz Stage
Chris Botti
Wayne Shorter Quartet
Dave Holland-Gonzalo Rubalcaba-Chris Potter-Eric Harland

Pavilion Stage
Haden - Iverson - Motian
Warren Vache Quintet
Brian Blade Fellowship

Waterside Stage
Lettuce with special guest Fred Wesley
Aaron Goldberg Trio
Christian Scott

Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 11:30am - 7:00pm
Fort Adams State Park

JVC Jazz Stage
Sonny Rollins
Herbie Hancock
Anthony Hamilton Blues Project
George Wein & The Newport All-Stars with Anat Cohen, Howard Alden, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard

Pavilion Stage
Marco Benevento Trio with special guest Chris Potter
Guillermo Klein y Los Gauchos
Christ Potter's Underground
Mark Rapp Band

Waterside Stage
Soulive with special guest Fred Wesley
Lionel Loueke Trio
Experanza Spalding
Empirical (UK)
OurStage.com winner