Summer is all business for jazz musicians. Airports, hotels, club stints, camp gigs —the road delivers the perks of building new audiences and visiting far-flung locales, but it’s also a draining whirl that often bars rest, family, and friends. That’s why festivals are so special. Arguably, the Newport Jazz Festival is the most special of them all, giving players a chance to tap the brakes a bit, absorb the splendor of Narragansett Bay, and socialize in the rambling recesses of Fort Adams. It’s also an opportunity for musicians to become audience members themselves, watching other performers on the three-day program. With four discrete stages of varying size and more than 60 acts on the bill, the options are many. We polled 10 artists who are on the road this summer, asking them to choose a colleague whose Newport set they’d like to catch if they had time. To a one, they were overwhelmed by the choices in front of them, but eager to explain their decisions. The responses were as fervent as they were fun.
Darcy James Argue