From Ageless Masters to Fiery Up-and-Comers: the Newport Jazz Festival Unveils Its First Wave

Feb 11, 2020

Norah Jones, Charles Lloyd, Makaya McCraven and Diana Krall are among the artists set to appear at the 2020 Newport Jazz Festival, Aug. 7-9 at Fort Adams State Park.

The festival revealed these names today as part of a first wave of artist announcements — some 30 acts, spanning a few different generations and stylistic modes.

The swinging modern-jazz tradition has always had a home at Newport, and this year its prominent exponents include Krall, Wynton Marsalis, and singer Catherine Russell. (You might add A Christian McBride Situation, led by Newport Jazz Festival artistic director and Jazz Night in America host, to that list.)

Robert Glasper at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Credit Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

But there’s also room on this year’s bill for all manner of beat science — from McCraven, Nate Smith + Kinfolk, Cory Wong of Vulfpeck, Chris Potter’s Circuits Trio and pianist Robert Glasper, who will serve as an artist in residence, performing in multiple settings.

Charles Lloyd, who celebrated his 80th birthday in high style at Newport in 2018, will return with his Kindred Spirits band, as on a forthcoming Blue Note boxed set. Also making a triumphant return is the Maria Schneider Orchestra, which will release a new album, Data Lords, this spring; alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, both with his own quartet and in the Jazz Gallery All-Stars; and saxophonist Joe Lovano, with Trio Tapestry, featuring pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi.

The insurgent London jazz scene will have solid representation, from The Comet is Coming and saxophonist Nubya Garcia. The Soul Rebels and Khruangbin will hold down two different varieties of groove. Vibraphonist Warren Wolf will lead the Wolfpack, drawing from a new album. And pianist Arturo O’Farrill will join forces with sons, Adam, a trumpeter, and Zack, a drummer, in a quintet.

And according to longstanding custom, there are a few artists who might best be described as crowd-pleasing jazz adjacencies — like ska and reggae icon Jimmy Cliff, R&B singer-songwriter Avery*Sunshine, and Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo, performing her dynamic version of the Talking Heads album Remain in Light.

As for Norah Jones, her most recent appearance at Newport was also her first — in 2016, shortly before the release of her album Day Breaks. She performed on both the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals that year; this performance of “Flip Side” comes from the jazz fest.

WBGO coordinates bus trips to the Newport Jazz Festival, departing from Manhattan and Boston on all three festival days, with an additional Saturday departure from Newark. Early Bird Day Trip Packages go on sale tomorrow, Feb. 12, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.