If you didn't manage to fly in, drive up or sneak your way aboard a yacht bound for coastal Rhode Island — well, we can't help you get to the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival. But if you're not near Aquidneck Island this weekend, you can still catch a lot of the festival from our live NPR Music webcast, presented with WBGO and WGBH.
This Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, we'll be live from Fort Adams State Park. Here's what's in store for our live stream:
2:00 p.m.: Robert Glasper Experiment
Our broadcast begins with a set from a band that's rewritten the rules of how a jazz man can approach the hip-hop and R&B of today. The breakout success of last year's Black Radio, with its live-to-tape boom-bap and myriad cameos, has already led to the announcement of a sequel due out near Halloween. Expect a freewheeling set of vamps and Vocoder from the keyboardist and crew.
3:00 p.m.: Bill Charlap Trio with Anat Cohen and Bob Wilber
Pianist Bill Charlap is about as quintessential New York straight-ahead as it gets. Having played with singer Freddy Cole the previous night, his elegant trio will accompany another esteemed elder in Bob Wilber, who specializes in classic jazz styles. (You might specialize, too, if you were mentored by Sidney Bechet.) The presence of Newport favorite Anat Cohen makes this something of a clarinet summit — a refreshing little hint of trad jazz at a festival that's become a lot about the modern lately.
3:40 p.m.: Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard's high-functioning quintets have always offered a reliable choice for sleek post-bop. The members of his current band are becoming great composers, too — pianist Fabian Almazan and drummer Kendrick Scott have released records of their own recently. They'll probably play material from a new album, Magnetic, where everyone in the band contributes tunes and Blanchard picks up some electric toys for his trumpet.
4:20 p.m.: Mary Halvorson Quintet
There's something about Mary ... sorry, but there is. Halvorson is a guitarist who sounds like no other, with strange squiggles and pedal effects galore, and she can write for a band, too. Hers is a quintet like certain classic Jazz Messengers lineups or the Charlie Parker Quintet, but her compositions take all these left turns, so things get good and weird. We'll have time for a brief taste.
4:40 p.m.: Selections from Rez Abbasi, Amir ElSaffar and Ali Amr
Our broadcast continues with highlights of three sets led by musicians known for investigating their ethnic backgrounds with their jazz training. Guitarist Rez Abbasi, born in Pakistan, returns to Newport with a lean trio in tow, as heard on the 2012 album Continuous Beat. Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers band splits the difference between the blues and the Iraqi maqam; they'll present new music. And Berklee student Ali Amr grew up in the Palestinian territories; he plays a string instrument called the qanun in a fluid improvising ensemble.
5:30 p.m.: Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band
Think New Orleans brass band, but crammed into a Volkswagen Golf: The trombonist's band makes a joyful noise for only four pieces. Matt Perrine is the sousaphonist of choice for many a New Orleans group; his bass line supports the trombone-trumpet free-for-all. Like Amir ElSaffar, they'll play new music, too, commissioned for Newport and supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
5:50 p.m.: Marcus Miller
Few musicians today are as versatile as Marcus Miller: bassist, keyboardist, bass clarinetist, film composer, producer, etc. He does jazz, rock, jazz-rock, pop, R&B, smooth jazz — anything black musicians have invented in the last half-century. He was in Miles Davis' last band. And he's doing new music of his own all the time. He brings a small group to close out day one on the main stage.
11:00 a.m.: Gregory Porter
We start the day with the next great male jazz singer. Booming, vintage-soul-era delivery. Original storytelling tunes and stunning interpretations of standards. Charisma. No wonder Blue Note signed Gregory Porter for a new album this fall. What I've heard of the forthcoming Liquid Spirit is great, but he's even better live, surrounded by a band that knows what he's after and follows him splendidly.
12:05 p.m.: Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human
A twentysomething singing pianist of the New Orleans virtuoso tradition, the cat's got an entertainer's charisma and chops to match. But he's in New York now, and that's where he met his band. They can do "modern jazz" with a metropolitan attitude, but also second-line-style parades through the subways and Lower East Side. It's perfect for a festival — and, yes, there will be tuba.
12:40 p.m.: Joshua Redman Quartet
The sight of saxophonist Joshua Redman raising his foot at the apex of a gritty solo has become common to Newport Jazz crowds — and always welcome. His latest record, Walking Shadows, is a collection of ballads; something tells me the program won't be quite so slow. He takes the main stage with a quartet of trusted confreres.
1:40 p.m.: Donny McCaslin Group
If you partied too hard in Newport on Saturday night, this will wake you up. Donny McCaslin is a saxophone slayer, an imposingly tall gentle giant. His newest band has gone electro-funk, with fuzz-dub bass and analog synths. One of his newer tunes is titled "Stadium Jazz," which is a little tongue-in-cheek — and a little bit of the grand vision implied.
2:45 p.m.: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
One of the OG new-school New Orleans brass bands, the Dirty Dozen consistently brings a guaranteed good time. This year actually marks three dozen years since the first incarnation of the group came together. Bet you a Del's frozen lemonade there'll be dancing and handkerchief-waving in the aisles, and that tuba man Kirk Joseph will anchor the celebration.
3:45 p.m.: Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra
Eddie Palmieri has confidence in what he's doing: After all, he's been leading Latin jazz and salsa bands for more than 50 years. It's hard to go wrong any time he's at the keys, and for Newport, he's assembled a big ol' group for maximum effect. "I don't guess I'm going to excite you with my band," he's known to say. "I know it."
5:00 p.m.: Jim Hall Trio with Julian Lage
Guys: It's Jim Hall! One of the tastiest guitar players ever, who made all those classic records with Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Ron Carter and so on. Still at it at age 82, he leads a rhythm section of Scott Colley (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums), i.e. top-shelf international caliber. And Julian Lage, a much younger guitar phenom, is set to join in the fun.
6:00 p.m.: Wayne Shorter 80th Birthday Celebration
Saving the best for last? Wayne Shorter is among the greatest jazz composers we have, so it's always worth perking up for him. His current quartet, if you're not familiar with it, tears apart and reconstructs his tunes — and some other pieces — in a recombinant Mr. Potato Head style. It's thrilling and a little mystifying, too. Since Shorter is turning 80 this year, his old friend Herbie Hancock will stop by to celebrate properly.