From July 30 to August 1, 2021, the Newport Jazz Festival (NJF) is returning live, after being closed down in 2020 due to the pandemic. One of the oldest in the world, the “Grandaddy of jazz festivals” will be once again held at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island.
As always, the NJF is presenting a star-studded lineup that includes: Kamasi Washington, Andra Day, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Mavis Staples, Christian McBride, Makaya McCraven, Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science, Ledisi, Robert Glasper, Charles Lloyd, Catherine Russell, The Chris Potter Circuits Trio, Cory Wong, The Arturo O’Farrill Quintet, and The Jazz Gallery All-Stars Featuring Jaleel Shaw, Morgan Guerin, Joel Ross, Charles Altura, Gerald Clayton, Ben Williams, Marcus Gilmore, & Renée Neufville, and more to be announced.
The NJF was first organized by impresario George Wein and funded by Elaine and Louis Lorillard in 1954. By 1958, the NJF had increased in popularity to the point that it was the subject of a documentary film, Jazz on a Summer’s Day. Over the years, numerous jazz icons and rising stars have appeared there, including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Mann, Buddy Rich, Dave Brubeck, Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Jon Faddis, Dianne Reeves, Art Blakey, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, Chick Corea, Anita O’Day, George Benson, Ray Charles, Sun Ra, Freddie Hubbard, Oscar Peterson, Lee Konitz, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Esperanza Spalding, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Tito Puente, Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Roy Hargrove, McCoy Tyner, Norah Jones, Dexter Gordon, Diana Krall, Joey Alexander, James Carter, Harry Connick, Jr., Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, Carmen McRae, Wayne Shorter, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bill Charlap, Jon Batiste, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Vijay Iyer, Ambrose Akinmusire, Anat Cohen, Jazzmeia Horn, Gregory Porter, Helen Sung, Horace Silver, Emmet Cohen, Ravi Coltrane, Christian Sands, Joshua Redman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Hiromi, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, Ingrid Jensen, and so many more!
Many classic jazz albums were recorded at NJF, including Count Basie at Newport, Ellington at Newport, Nina Simone at Newport, and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport.
Two of the most famous performances in Newport’s history are Miles Davis’ 1955 solo on “Round Midnight” and the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s lengthy and renowned rendition of “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” which featured an extended saxophone solo by Paul Gonsalves.
In addition to the upcoming NJF, the Newport Festivals Foundations has many other endeavors, including being the recipient of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Leadership Grant. On the website, it says:
“Over its six and a half decades, the Newport Jazz Festival® has been committed to providing artists a platform to showcase their mastery and innovation to the public, students and educators.
The Jazz Festival has been preserving and expanding Jazz’s legacy and impact by igniting interest in new generations of Jazz lovers through their Jazz Assembly programs and educational initiatives. Now, the Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Festivals Foundation will be able to continue their work as a recipient of a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Leadership Grant. “As a foundation that believes and invests in the vitality of jazz, the Newport Jazz Festival is an important partner for us,” said Ed Henry, president of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). “For more than 65 years, the festival has presented jazz legends, offered platforms for promising emerging artists, and created an artistic space that showcases to global audiences the deep roots and evolution of this music. DDCF is pleased to provide this grant to recognize the leadership role the festival has played in the field and to help it continue to support artists and the music into the future.”
Since its inception, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Arts Program has recognized that substantial support to exemplary arts organizations plays an essential role in supporting the creative lives and livelihoods of artists. The Leadership Grants were designed to enhance organizations’ abilities to adapt to a complex, evolving environment that often obstructs their ability to plan and achieve long-term institutional goals and business plans. The grant will expand Newport’s Jazz-specific music education programming through content capture and curriculum development as well as provide artists with additional revenue streams.
“Doris Duke, who had a home in Newport, was often in attendance at the Newport Jazz Festival,” says founder George Wein. “I’m sure Miss Duke would be happy to see that DDCF is giving such meaningful support to Newport Festivals Foundation and what it means to the cultural life of Rhode Island, America and the world.’”
In recent years, Newport Festivals Foundation has participated in several community outreach efforts, including Instruments for Puerto Rico, Guitars for Vets, Commitment to Newport Schools, and Instruments for Portland.
The NJF brings artist ambassadors to connect, share, and inspire students. This includes the traveling Newport Jazz Assembly Bands that present assembly programs on the history of Jazz for schools in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Michigan. The organization also identifies and funds after-school programs across the country. Newport Festivals Foundation established The Newport Festivals Musician Relief Fund, to provide financial relief to musicians in the Folk & Jazz communities experiencing a loss of income, as a result of COVID-19.
Sponsors for the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Cox Business, and Conn-Elmer Division of Education.
This year, for the safety of all attendees, people will have to show either proof of vaccination, demonstrating that you were fully vaccinated at least two weeks in advance of the event, OR a negative Covid-19 test administered within 72 hours before you attend. The Newport Jazz Festival website has instructions on how to fill out the short application for the pre-screening process, and ticket buyers will receive an email with instructions. You will need to do this ahead of time, and it will result in a Crowdpass, which will get you entrance into the NJF.
For more information about ticket sales and discounts, Covid protocols, where to stay, and what is allowed to be brought into the NJF, go to www.newportjazz.org.