Since 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival® has been a prominent showcase for jazz trumpeters to show off their chops - from Louis Armstrong playing "Blue Room" and Dizzy Gillespie performing "Manteca" to Miles Davis blowing cool on "'Round Midnight," and Wynton Marsalis putting his neo-classic nuances on "Black Codes from the Underground." In every era, the trumpet kings and queens have signed their sonic signature in this soulful setting, and this year's edition presented by Natixis Investment Managers, which convenes at Fort Adams State Park August 3-5, continues this grand and grooving tradition.
The Texas-born trumpeter-flugelhornist Roy Hargrove represented the cream of the crop of trumpeters who came after Wynton Marsalis in the Young Lions era of the eighties. His Grammy-winning, butter-rich trumpet tones encompass straight-ahead to R&B and hip-hop, and on Sunday, August 5, his quintet, featuring alto saxophonist/flautist Justin Robinson, pianist Tadataka Unno, bassist Ameen Saleem and drummer Quincy Phillips, will no doubt provide their fearless leader with the right moves and grooves that have kept him in the public eye for decades.
Chicago has been second to none in producing trumpeters of impeccable taste, as evidenced by Marquis Hill, winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition. His trumpet tones get their airlift from Donald Byrd's inspirational wings, and on Friday, August 3, he and his Blacktet - alto saxophonist Braxton Cook, pianist Michael King, bassist Jeremiah Hunt and drummer Jonathan Pinson - come to the stage to perform their wide panorama of genres, from hard bop, blues and beyond, which are heard on Hill's 2016 release The Way We Play.
Oakland's Ambrose Akinmusire also is a Monk Competition winner (2007). His first place finish in the recent 66th Annual Down Beat International Critics Poll confirms what many already know - that he's been one of the most intrepid improvisers and compelling composers in the last decade and a half, as heard on his 2-CD recording A Rift in Decorum: Live at The Village Vanguard. He's a sideman in Mary Halvorson's Code Girl ensemble on Saturday, August 4, and on Sunday, August 5, he brings his Origami Harvest with rapper Kohl A.D., keyboardist Sam Harris, drummer Marcus Gilmore and The Minos String Quartet to Newport performing music that spans from the vital center to the outer limits of jazz.
British Columbia's Ingrid Jensen, sister of saxophonist Christine, and a multiple winner of Canada's Juno Award, came in second place in that same Downbeat Critics Poll which, given that she stylistically comes from Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard, should come as no surprise to anyone. With nine CDs as a leader, including her 2016 release Infinite, she performs with the super-ensemble Artemis on Sunday, August 5, which also features vocalist Cecile McLorin-Salvant, pianist/music director Renee Rosnes, saxophonist Melissa Aldana, drummer Allison Miller, clarinetist Anat Cohen and bassist Noriko Ueda.
All told, the trumpet is in good hands and in good company with Hargrove, Akinmusire, Hill and Jensen on the scene.
The 2018 Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Investment Managers takes place August 3 - 5 at Fort Adams State Park and the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino. Artists include Charles Lloyd's 80th Birthday Celebration with three different bands; Andra Day; George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic; Jon Batiste; R+R=NOW; Alicia Olatuja; Michel Camilo; Grace Kelly; Laurie Anderson & Christian McBride Improvisations with special guest Rubin Kodheli; and many more.