Greg Abate

Greg Abate, who is listed in Downbeat Magazine’s latest critics poll as among jazz music’s top rising stars, brings his uptown jazz quintet for a high powered night of music at the Newport Playhouse, Thursday, August 2.

Known for his straight-ahead jazz and bee-bop style, Abate’s performance is part of Bridgefest, linking the folk and jazz festivals, and comes on the eve of the opening of the Newport Jazz Festival. It’s a great way to get a jump start on a jazz-filled weekend.

Abate, a prolific and accomplished songwriter, who performs more than 200 concerts a year worldwide, is third of 20 in Downbeat’s critics poll “Rising Star Alto Sax.” The poll appears in the magazine’s August edition. Last year, he also finished third in “Rising Star Alto” and in 2013 was 12th as “Best Alto Sax.”

The concert, a joint effort by the Newport Playhouse and WhatsUpNewp, will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Playhouse, 102 Connell Highway, Newport. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 day of the show and can be purchased through the Playhouse website at or on

Besides Abate, the quintet includes Phil Grenadier (trumpet), Matt DeChamplain (piano), Paul Del Nero (bass) and Luther Gray (drums).

Abate has recorded some 20 albums, his first recorded at Birdland in New York City, and he’s recorded and appeared with with jazz legends like six-time Grammy-winning saxophonist Phil Woods. Woods and Abate recorded two albums together.

“I sleep a lot better knowing there are alto players like Greg,” Woods said. “It was a joy to make music with him, and he writes good challenging songs.”  

A graduate of Berklee in Boston, Abate, was lead alto sax player with Ray Charles, played with the legendary Artie Shaw, and with a number of top headliners before forming his own band several years ago.

Abate was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2016. Here’s what some of the critics say about Abate:

  • “Abate is not content to rely on stock bebop riffs and standard chord progressions. Rather, the sharp angularity of his phrases and the often startling pauses in his fast-moving lines give his work a feeling of constant invention and creativity.”– Chicago Tribune.
  • “…Abate’s musical style can be seen as a distillation of swing’s easygoing vibe and bop’s more animated groove. He has developed a unique voice.” – Metro, San Jose.
  • “Greg Abate is an absolute powerhouse who will absolutely not let hard driving bebop die. One of the most exciting players around today, Greg’s commitment to the music is total…”– METRO, San Jose
  • “Greg Abate is one of the most appealing saxophonists on the scene today. He is mature with an abundance of gentle self-confidence. The result is that he plays music with sweetness and daring.” – New Jazz Recordings.