There’s a very true cliché that jazz musicians, producers, promoters and other industry folks like to deploy in case of emergency, when something that had been carefully planned goes awry. It goes something like: Jazz musicians can improvise, so this unexpected logistical hiccup is really just another opportunity for inspired spontaneity. It came in handy at Newport on Saturday afternoon, when DJ Logic’s Project Logic was stuck in traffic and running behind for their 2 p.m. set on the Quad Stage. The project’s keyboardist, James Hurt, was already on-site, and swooped in for the save, playing an off-the-cuff mini-recital that he dedicated to the late Bernie Worrell and which also featured an interpretation of Prince’s “Crazy You.”
Worrell was a good touchstone for what Hurt unrolled: synth effects from outer space, intimations of classical training, James Booker-isms—all woven into a suite-like form that drew applause like a main event. DJ Logic’s Project Logic, a revolving cast of vamp-savvy improvisers conducted by the turntablist, wasted little time, making quick work of its setup and locking into a solid half-hour’s worth of grooves and soulfully nonchalant frontline interplay. With a lineup featuring saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist MonoNeon and drummer Marcus Gilmore, even the full hour of set time would have felt truncated.