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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

Ambrose Akinmusire at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival
Ambrose Akinmusire at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival (photo: Marek Lazarski)

With a string quartet and an MC in tow, the trumpeter’s new outfit is an unusual configuration that perhaps is still finding its balance. But flashes of brilliance continually blasted through their Sunday presentation, and many of them had to do with the variety of sounds created by his instrument as well as the textures that emerged when he, pianist Sam Harris, and drummer Marcus Gilmore swooped through and played off the hefty counterpoints scripted for the Mivos Quartet. Akinmusire flaunts a poet’s heart and dodges the obvious at all costs, so Kool A.D.’s narrations weren’t always rap bars in the trad sense, but vivid sketches of modern predicaments and uncomfortable truths that warranted an artistic sorting-out. You know, lives being lived in the here and now.

Originally Published

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.