Main stage action at this year's Newport Jazz Fest kicks off with a small reunion of couriers. Between 1961 and 1964, pianist Cedar Walton and trombonist Curtis Fuller were both members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, one of jazz's great finishing schools. Nearly 50 years later, both are still honored emissaries of classic hard bop, and when they meet up on stage this weekend, they'll be joined by a fellow veteran in flutist and tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin.
Cedar Walton All-Stars perform at Newport Jazz. In silhouette: David Williams, Lew Tabackin and Cedar Walton.
Tabackin is a veteran of the New York scene in the 1960s, and is largely known for fronting a large ensemble with pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, his wife. A gifted player and underheard composer, Fuller came up in the fruitful Detroit scene of the 1950s, and his migration to New York launched him into the top tier of players. Meanwhile, Walton has had the most visible career since the hard-bop heyday, releasing scores of his own albums and gigging frequently. He gets the billing — Cedar Walton's All-Stars — and will likely call some of his own tunes live at Newport.