A Millennial Incursion At A Jazz Festival : A Blog Supreme One third of the bandleaders at the Newport Jazz Festival this year are 30 or under. And though they manage to share stages with their elders, many of the young folks are bringing contemporary points of view to traditional jazz forms.
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A Millennial Incursion At Newport

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A Millennial Incursion At Newport

A Millennial Incursion At Newport

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JOHN YDSTIE, Host:

Lara Pellegrinelli sent this snapshot of Newport's newest generation of jazz lovers.

LARA PELLEGRINELLI: The New Black Eagle Jazz Band is about as traditional as they come. The musicians have been playing together for 40 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NEW BLACK EAGLE JAZZ BAND: (Performance)

PELLEGRINELLI: At the same moment, a mere 300 feet away on another stage at Fort Adams, is a band of 30-somethings on the opposite end of the musical spectrum. It's called Mostly Other People Do the Killing.

MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING: (Performance)

PELLEGRINELLI: The musicians take their musical cues from pop, rock, experimental music and punk, although their dark suits and sunglasses suggest ironic New Wave. Their wild, brash humor makes you think they might be thumbing their noses at traditional jazz.

MOPPA ELLIOTT: No, not even a little bit.

PELLEGRINELLI: Bassist Moppa Elliott was greeting his parents, jazz-loving parents who brought him to the Newport Festival starting when he was too young to even remember.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, these are my folks...

PELLEGRINELLI: He and trumpeter Peter Evans figured out that they'd both heard Miles Davis at the same Newport fest back when they were in elementary school. Even though Elliott was a child of the '80s, he was brought up on a different soundtrack: classic jazz albums of the 1950s on labels like Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse.

ELLIOTT: And so I kind of grew up surrounded by this kind of music and it's just, you know, the core of what I hear in my head when I hear things that aren't voices.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PELLEGRINELLI: Newport's artistic co-director, Jason Olaine, says that's what he's seen.

JASON OLAINE: Musicians are - their nature is to create and interpret music as they see it, in what makes sense to them, in a personal way. And growing up in the world of back-beat is probably going to have some influence, versus growing up in the world of swinging jazz from the '50s and '60s.

PELLEGRINELLI: Trombone Shorty, another musician who brings different contemporary influences to jazz, actually got audiences up off their feet and dancing in their clam diggers during his set Saturday afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TROMBONE SHORTY: (Performance)

PELLEGRINELLI: There may be some naysayers, but the New Black Eagle Jazz Band's clarinetist, Billy Novick, has nothing but praise for the younger generation.

BILLY NOVICK: Love it. Some of the people who play this music are stodgy about it and very - kind of judgmental about other kinds of music. We're not that way.

PELLEGRINELLI: For NPR News, I'm Lara Pellegrinelli in Newport, Rhode Island.

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