It is now called the JVC Jazz Festival, but it still takes place in Newport, Rhode Island. If the festival no longer has the jazz purity of its beginnings in the 1950s, at least it has survived. It continues to include major jazz artists among the tangential pop figures who attract the big crowds that pay the bills. In today’s Boston Globe, Steve Greenlee summarizes the two days of Newport and evaluates the highlights as if he were scoring Olympic events.
Gold medal: Sonny Rollins. The titan of the tenor sax hadn’t played Newport in more than 40 years, but last night he owned it, with a hard-blowing set that closed the festival. He improvised endlessly on the repeating two-bar figure that serves as the framework of “Sonny Please.” He played ahead of time and against time, punctuating phrases with quick jabs, shrieks, and honks. Be it burner or ballad, he blew and blew, and he never ran out of ideas.
Greenlee even awards gold, silver and bronze medals to elements of the audience.To read his entire report, click here.