Top 10 Moments of the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival

From bent bop to old-school blues to pulse and skronk, this year’s fest had a lot going for it


More politics, and participatory at that. During a steady Saturday drizzle, Anderson began with a hat-tip to Yoko Ono, who recorded and tweeted a primal scream of frustration and fear the day after the 2016 presidential election. The soaked Newport crowd was encouraged to do the same, complying vibrantly. From there Anderson went on to paraphrase Aristophanes’ “The Birds” (which tells of constructing a barrier between earth and sky) while conjuring some of the day’s most luminous sounds. The unusual lineup was fascinating: McBride’s bass, Rubin Kodheli’s cello, Anderson’s violin. Drones and echoes, pulse and skronk—the improv, enhanced by the leader’s electronics, was layered into abstractions that boasted their own steely lyricism. At one point, the collective buzzing of flash-flood alerts coming from audience cell phones only enhanced the details of a quiet passage. Digital music at an analog fest, and an outlier booking that worked wonderfully.

Jim Macnie

Jim Macnie is a music writer who contributes to DownBeat and blogs at Lament For a Straight Line. He’s been working in digital media since since 2000, initially as’s Managing Editor and, currently, as a Senior Producer and Editor at Vevo. He enjoys Little Jimmie Dickens, Big Joe Turner and Medium Medium.