Ten “Don’t Miss” Acts at the Newport Jazz Festival

Historic Festival Returns This Weekend

Tank and the Bangas

The historic Newport Jazz Festival starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend of August 2-4. Over 60 acts ranging from fusion to hip-hop will be performing. We’ve made some picks of those artists you won’t want to miss. Of course, there’s so much good music at the Festival, you can’t go wrong on any stage. Tickets still available for each day with Saturday nearing a sellout. Buy tickets here.

Kamasi Washington took the jazz world by storm in 2015 with his masterpiece “The Epic,” a three hour odyssey featuring his 10 piece band. Washington played on Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking hip-hop album “To Kill a Butterfly,” and is redefining improvisational jazz with each new release. It’s his second time to the Festival – he plays the Fort Stage Saturday at 6PM.   

Tank and the Bangas wowed at the Newport Folk Festival last year and are guaranteed to blow you away at the Jazz Festival. The New Orleans collective features an absolutely genre-defying sound. They’re impossible to categorize, but also impossible not to love! They play the Fort Stage at 4:00 Sunday.

Buika is a flamenco singer originally from Spain who blends sounds from around the world into her performance. She’s performed and recorded with Jason Mraz and Pat Metheny among others. She plays the Fort Stage Saturday at 2:45.

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Herbie Hancock is the leading legend at the Festival this summer. The 14 time Grammy Award winner who got his start with Miles Davis in the 1963, continues to create innovative sounds as he approaches his 80th birthday. He plays the Fort Stage Friday at 5:45 and returns Saturday at 3:30 in a trio with Christian McBride and Vinnie Colaiuta.

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Dianne Reeves is perhaps the best vocalist in jazz today. The five-time Grammy Award winner returns to the Newport stage after her 2018 designation as a Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists. She’s performing Saturday at the Fort Stage at 4:15.

Phil Madeira is a Barrington, RI native who has performed at Newport previously, but in a support role as guitarist in the Emmylou Harris Band. This time, the Nashville based musician leads his jazz trio, including Bryan Owings and Jesse Murphy, onto the Storyville Stage Sunday at 11AM. As far as we know, he’s the only performer this year who is a member of the ​Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame​. Don’t miss this set Sunday!

Mwenso and the Shakes

Mwenso and the Shakes are a unique collaborative based in Harlem made up of musicians from Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii. Another band whose style is hard to pin down, they borrow from Fats Waller, Muddy Waters and James Brown. Woo! Head to the Quad Stage Saturday at 11:10 to see and hear them.

Women of the World are just that. The group was formed “to bring women musicians from across the globe onto a common platform to collaborate and create through the sharing of music, to explore and celebrate the differences in ideologies and cultural tenets that exist in the daily lives of women all over the world.” The rotating cast of musicians perform in 34 different languages. Catch them on the Harbor Stage Friday at 3:55.

The Students … no doubt, it’s the thrill of a lifetime for students of jazz to play the Newport stage. This year, three ensembles open the festivities each day at the Harbor Tent. Listen to the music and watch their family and friends delight in the moment.

Friday Harbor 11AM – Berklee Global Jazz Institute

Saturday Harbor 11AM – URI Jazz Big Band

Sunday Harbor 11AM – RI Senior All State Jazz Band (RI Music Educators Association)

The Breakout Band You Haven’t Heard Of Yet… explore, enjoy and discover. Stay hydrated and get to as many stages as possible. Support the festival and vendors! And check back here for daily recaps… See you at the Fort!


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