The Rifftides Lead Of The Week Award goes to Steve Greenlee of the Boston Globe for this entry:
NEWPORT, R.I. — News bulletin: Major theft this weekend at Fort Adams State Park during the JVC Jazz Festival. Description of subject: Elderly gentleman, white hair, thick glasses, walks and speaks slowly, but plays piano like a madman. Date of birth: 12-6-20. Item stolen: the show.
Greenlee was describing Dave Brubeck. To read all of his review of Sunday at the Newport Festival, go here.
In the interest of survival, jazz festivals everywhere have loosened the admittance requirements for musicians and modified the already indistinct definition of jazz. There are no rules determining who qualifies as a jazz artist, so the Newport management might defend on business grounds its inclusion of B.B. King. Let’s call it a borderline compromise. But I must share Greenlee’s surprise at the presence on the Newport stage of the blues-rock-folk, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink performer Bruce Hornsby.
Next year at Newport: Ricky Skaggs, The Grateful Dead?
No disrespect to B.B., but I think Hornsby belongs at a jazz festival as much as any non-jazz musician you’d care to name. I’m curious why you seem to think he doesn’t.
(No disrespect to Hornsby. I concede the point. Jazz festivals should present only jazz musicians — DR)
I grew up with the Vancouver Jazz Festival, which always had a healthy nonjazz contingent (I can remember one year where the Staples Singers headlined, and there was always a lot of blues and world music) and then the Montreal Jazz Fest — which often included artists like Van Morrison, Marianne Faithful, and Meshell Ndegeocello.
I don’t really have much of a problem with this, especially if the more overtly commercial acts allow the festival to be more adventurous with its jazz programming. That strikes me as a much better solution than relying exclusively on the handful of “jazz” artists with mass appeal.
And I really don’t see why anyone would have an issue with either of the artists you mention above being booked at a jazz festival — B.B. King is B.B. King, after all. And Bruce Hornsby’s latest record is a piano trio date with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette. They do “Giant Steps,” “Celia,” “Straight, No Chaser,” “Un Poco Loco,” etc.
Ken Dryden says
Doug, I am also mystified at the presence of so many non-jazz artists as headliners in various Jazz Festivals (look in vain for jazz artists among the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival headliners). But Bruce Hornsby does have a jazz background, having studied at both Berklee and the University of Miami jazz programs. He also appeared on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz a couple of years ago and the CD was issued by Concord. I’m sure you’ve received Hornsby’s new CD Camp Meeting with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette, though you may not have had a chance to hear it. I’d rather have Bruce Hornsby at a jazz festival than Bruce Springsteen, Prince or someone scratching turntables and sampling while claiming to be playing jazz.
(I haven’t heard “Camp Meeting.” I’ll get it — DR)
Well, jazz musician or not, he was there with Christian McBride and jack DeJohnette playing Ornette, Bud Powell and Ives. Sure, he threw in a couple of his own tunes, but imo, if you can get two guys like that to play and record with you, who am I to judge?
Peter Levin says
It looks as though there may be a perfectly good jazz reason for Hornsby to be at Newport this year:
Richard Kamins says
As stated in the Boston Globe review, there was plenty of creative music at Newport – one just had to be willing to walk around to the various venues. We were there only on Saturday but saw and heard much to write home about. From Joshua Redman to the Monk Legacy Septet to Abdullah Ibrahim to the Anat Cohen Quartet to the Mingus Orchestra to Roswell Rudd, there were few dull patches (I missed much of Hornsby’s set to catch Ben Riley’s band) – you just had to move around. Brubeck’s set was one of the highlights, especially coming after Zap Mama and before the rambunctiously funky (and much too loud) Marcus Miller.
It was my first Newport and well worth attending.