Saturday, August 4, 2012

Newport Jazz Festival

The 58th Newport Jazz Festival is being held this weekend in Newport.
The history of the Jazz fest is one of my favorite things about Newport and Rhode Island. Founded in 1956, there were few States in the U.S. that would allow "People of Color" to play in a major venue. But in Newport, this tiny little place in the middle of the ocean, all the greats were invited to play and they all came. The program from 1958 lists Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Mingus, Miles Davis, Dave Brubek, and Louis Armstrong all in the same festival!! I think it's remarkable that Newport demonstrated the independent spirit that Rhode Island was founded on and I like to think that playing in Newport may have helped these extraordinary performers reach the legendary status they deserve. The Newport Jazz Fest is so much more than a busy Summer weekend with backed-up traffic and over-booked hotels. It has helped shape the history and evolution of music, and established a standard of inclusion that should make us all proud.