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8 Best Moments at Newport Jazz Festival 2018

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Sunday August 05, 2018

Billboard

8 Best Moments at Newport Jazz Festival 2018
By: Natalie Weiner

“We’re trying to go futuristic and retro at the same time,” explained saxophonist and bandleader Rudresh Mahanthappa on the first day of the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival. Mahanthappa was talking about how Agrima, the most recent release by his Indo-Pak Coalition—alongside who he was performing fluid, delicate, tabla-driven grooves at the festival’s Quad Stage—was only available for purchase as an mp3 or vinyl LP. But the ethos of finding a harmonious relationship between old and new has rarely felt more relevant to jazz as a genre, where artists are making the music’s rich history a vital part of their work instead of either sanctifying it as impossible to match or rejecting it on principle.

In the spirit of the festival’s status as a destination for those looking for fresh takes on the jazz tradition, Billboard selected the best new versions of old songs performed at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival.

[…] Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Brian Blade, “Guinea” (1979)

This all-star ensemble recently came together for the new release Still Dreaming, a tribute to the 1970s group Old And New Dreams, which included Redman’s father, Dewey Redman. The resulting performance was perfect jazz bro fodder, as evidenced by the whoops of approval after a slew of burning solos on the opening numbers. On “Guinea,” they dug into the song’s deep groove, seamlessly deconstructing it and then put back together again, with funk interludes that sounded as intentional as the melancholy cadenzas. Miles played an impossibly polished, melodic and still gutsy solo, while Blade brought his usual virtuosic joy to the drum set.

Jazzmeia Horn, “Have You Met Miss Jones” (1937)

Horn, without a doubt among the jazz world’s most exciting young vocalists, could not fit in better at Newport: her sound is explosive and bright and rich, catnip for audiences looking for boldness that’s still traditional. She showcased her unreal vocal dexterity on the classic “Have You Met Miss Jones,” insisting upon pushing the song to its limit instead of being content with the kind of prettiness she could almost certainly perform in her sleep: there was extensive scatting as she explored all corners of her range, trading fours with the drummer and building up to the grand finale with a bass/voice duet.

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