Boasting a lineup featuring both a young star in her twenties and a jazz giant approaching 80, Newport Jazz Festival impresario and occasional pianist George Wein took his own main stage for a jam session with a handpicked all-star band. The festival founder, himself an octogenarian, called a number of standards and classics from the Ellington songbook, all treated with classic swing feeling.
For over a half-century, Wein was in charge of the annual jazz festival in Newport, R.I. Though he continues to plan the event behind the scenes, last year he sold his production company. The festival's new management then asked him to appear in a less frequently-seen role: Performer.
Wein has been playing with a hand-selected group of musicians — the Newport All-Stars — for as long as his festival has gone on. But this year's cast is remarkably different than the entourage of peers he normally calls upon for a fun round of small-group swing. Israeli-born woodwind specialist Anat Cohen traverses Brazilian choro as easily as she solos over sophisticated string arrangments and tight quartet numbers. An even younger musician, 24-year-old bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding recently became the youngest instructor ever at Berklee College of Music; she already has two albums out as a leader.
On the other end of the spectrum is Howard Alden, a seven-string guitarist quite familiar with Wein's idiom. In the drum chair is Jimmy Cobb, who played Newport over 50 years ago with Miles Davis; he continues to lead his own band and perform with fellow jazz masters.
- George Wein, piano
- Anat Cohen, woodwinds
- Howard Alden, guitar
- Esperanza Spalding, bass/vocals
- Jimmy Cobb, drums
- Johnny Come Lately (Strayhorn)
- I Thought About You (Van Heusen)
- Shreveport Stomp (Morton)
- Come Sunday (Ellington)
- What Am I Here For? (Ellington)
- Midnight Sun (Hampton/Burke) [Esperanza Spalding feature]
- Um A Zero (Pixinguinha)
- Tears (Reinhardt) [Howard Alden feature]
- Limehouse Blues (Braham)
- Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (Barris)