At last it can be told. Everything's a conspiracy, these days, and all the forces that allied to keep this story from the public –the skulking shadows, the inconvenient imposition of life events– though they have not abated, are, at least, distant enough that I can disclose the following details before my position is found out.
Chicago –where we'd journey four weeks later– shares ownership of jazz with New Orleans and New York. But Newport imports it... and (really) only annually at that. But for shear event-ness –for the unalloyed audacity in brining what has always been an 'impolite' artform to this genteel enclave– Newport can't be beat. It's sort of... decadent?... like ordering lobster in Vegas.
Having rescued his creation from the brink, George Wein restored much of the festival's luster, while simultaneously doing something daring and unexpected in inviting some of the more controversial elements from jazz's diverse (some would say, 'overgrown') family tree. Why? Because he believes in the music. He's a businessman, to be sure, but George's heart and soul is dedicated to the music and culture of jazz. It's a big family and not all factions see it that way, but this has been his life for more than the fifty-six years the festival has been running.
With an expectant spring in our step that not even Terry Teachout could damp, we disembarked at the bus station; found ourselves some lunch; and considered our next step. It was Friday, and the only official event was the black-tie event at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I mean no disrespect to the lineup for that evening's festivities, but we had other priorities.
The Vijay Iyer Trio; Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition; The Ken Vandermark Five; The Bad Plus; even Mos Def... and... finally... especially... By Any Means (William Parker, Charles Gayle, and (sitting in for his then-ailing brother Rashied) Muhammad Ali).
Ken Laster is attending this year's festival and will be blogging, Facebooking, Twittering, etc... we're all about social media and web 2.0, at WHUS. You'll want to take all that in, to be sure.
Me? I'm staying closer to home, this summer. And while I wouldn't regard it as basking in yesterday's triumphs, I will admit to a small sense of nostalgia. Check in again, tomorrow for Part 2.
I the mean time, I'll just leave this here: The Bay Point Inn (aka The Bay Point Residence and Conference Center on the Portsmouth Campus for Roger Williams University has, as of this writing, rooms available for $99). It's not a fancy place to be sure, but it's close enough by and a steal by Newport standards. Their phone number is 401-683-3600.