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The 2019 Newport Jazz Festival began on a perfect note on Friday, under sunny skies, with a gentle breeze and good vibes all around. Friday at Newport Jazz is traditionally a day to experience new, mainly young artists and this year was no different.
Some of those younger artists, students at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, opened the day under the leadership of instructors and past festival performers Danilo Perez and Marco Pignataro. Mwenso and the Shakes, one of the new bands to the festival, really got things going on the Quad Stage before Noon. The Harlem based collective blended R&B, hip hop and jazz for a high energy performance.
Female-led groups and artists were in the forefront all day. The R&B/Jazz sounds of singer/pianist Kandace Springs were well received as was a Fort Stage set from Grammy winning singer Corrine Bailey Rae. Women of the World, an international collaborative, also shined, their a cappella sounds ringing out over the Harbor Stage.
Festival veterans the Sun Ra Arkestra, led by 95-year-old multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen, were amazing as always and bassist Thundercat brought funky hip hop inspired sounds to an appreciative audience.
Another highlight was DOMi and JD Beck, an up-tempo future-sonic jazz duo. With a youthful audience in tow, the upstart pair turned traditional jazz upside down – to the delight of those assembled.
The afternoon ended with a stellar set from jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, a festival veteran and legend in the jazz world.
We’re sharing some photos of Day 1 below from WhatsUp photographer Rick Farrell.