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The Newport Jazz Festival arrives this weekend. 31 of the 50+ bands performing are new to the Festival this year, and many of them further expand the boundaries of jazz music. “America’s original art form” has had a home in Newport since 1954 and the tradition continues with an impressive line-up this year. With respect and admiration for so many not listed below, we present our “Six Picks,” for the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival.
Philadelphia, PA’s Roots have been making music all of kinds for 30 years. They’ve won four Grammy awards in categories including R&B and Rap. Of course, they are best known as the house band on the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where there musicianship and stage antics are seen by millions on a nightly basis. The band closes the Festival Sunday on Fort Stage.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Bela Fleck’s Grammy winning quartet returns to Newport with their singular blend of jazz, classical, bluegrass, and more, all centered around a banjo. He’s reassembled the original Flecktones which include pianist/harmonica player Howard Levy, bassist Victor Wooten and percussionist/drumitarist Roy “Futureman” Wooten. They close the Fort Stage on Friday.
Andra Day has been described as having “a throwback voice in a modern era.” Her brilliant “Rise Up” (below) is a fine example of her talent. She’s appeared everywhere and seemingly with everyone over the last couple of years after being “discovered” by Stevie Wonder’s wife while singing at a store opening. Don’t miss her set Sunday on the Fort Stage.
Flying Toward the Sound: For Geri With Love
Geri Allen was an award winning pianist, composer and educator who was scheduled to play the festival this year. Sadly, she passed away in June due to cancer. Her colleagues, Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding and Vijay Iyer have put together a set called “Flying Toward the Sound: For Geri With Love.” They play the Quad Stage Saturday.
Grammy winner Branford Marsallis is one of the great names from one of the great families in jazz. He returns to the Fort Stage Saturday with his quartet, on the heels of his latest release Four MFs Playing Tunes. Don’t miss this set from the Saxophonist extraordinaire.
DJ Logic’s Project Logic
DJ Logic is turntablist who has crossed genres frequently and is notable for turning on many in the hip-hop world on to jazz. He’s collaborated with numerous artists including Christian McBride, John Mayer and The Roots. Expect a guest appearance or two Saturday when he takes the Quad stage with his band that includes Jaleel Shaw, Keyon Harrold, Foday Musa Suso, Vernon Reid, James Hurt, Mono Neon and Marcus Gilmore.