Newport One: Come Ride The Wein Machine!
August 6, 2011. Posted by Tim Wilkins.
The Newport Jazz Festival 2011 is alive and hopping, and so are we - WBGO is live from Newport from 2 to 7 today, then from noon to 7 tomorrow, with our friends from NPR Music. Tune in or click on the player below to hear all the action, hosted by WBGO's own Josh Jackson!
Jazz fans arrive early, queuing up by 8 in the morning to take the water taxi across Newport Harbor, lawn chairs in hand, to stake out a good spot on the lawn at Fort Adams State Park, where the festival is held every year. Weather this year is mild and overcast, a welcome relief for our colleagues from NPR Music, who face triple-digit temperatures down in DC.
I sat next to Mike Yazel on my trip over the water. He's been coming to the festival for fifty years, and remembers many "magical musical moments," as he called them, with Count Basie, Miles Davis and many others.
"It was back when we wore berets and had mustaches, and snapped our fingers instead of clapping," Yazel told me.
With fifteen performances each day and three stages running simultaneously, jazz fans face a lot of hard choices. Today from two to three, for instance, fans had to choose from Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty and Joey DeFrancesco.
Yazel, for one, yearns for the days when all of the musical energy was concentrated on one stage, and for a single audience.
"You’d get the younger and the older musicians on the same stage,," he said, "and that's where the magic happens. You don’t get that now."
But Yazel does relish the excitement shared between the fans and musicians, which is as potent now as it ever was.
“The good part is seeing the musicians with the people," he told me, "you can see the joy and the excitement of the fans. And the laides’ fashions, oh my God, they dress up for it!"
But while the atmosphere is convivial, festival head George Wein runs a well-oiled machine, which part of the secret to keeping it going al these years.
Thank you, George, and to all the fans and musicians, and to all those behind the scenes who make Newport 2011 sound sweet to our ears this year!
© 2011 WBGO
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