"This band is very much a song-oriented band," he says. "So we are material-based and in a sense more than a lot of other projects that I've been involved in. Our kind of attitude as improvisers on the one hand is about being free and in the moment. But I think one thing that we are interested in, playing the songs on this album, is the overall story that's being told. Part of the adventure of this band is navigating that divide and finding the balance between the two." (For a tip sheet on other acts to catch at this weekend's Newport Jazz Festival, go to thePhoenix.com/jazz.)  

JAMES FARM | Newport Jazz Festival | August 7 | Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island


There’s plenty to see and hear at Newport this weekend on three stages, and plenty of big names — Wynton, Esperanza, Brubeck. But here’s some tips on folks who don’t get up to Boston often (or at all) and, for that and other reasons, are must-sees. Information here is drawn from the “cubes” posted on the Festival web site (newportjazzfest.net) but scheduling is subject to change, so check for times upon arriving at Fort Adams.

Mostly Other People Do the Killing | Saturday, Quad Stage @ 11:20 am | Okay, this quartet had me with the punk-rock name. But they back it up — a “pianoless” quartet featuring the explosive alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon (winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Institute saxophone competition), they have a subversive edge steeped in the Mingus side of the ’60s avant-garde with a very 2011 political awareness.

Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet | Saturday, Harbor Stage @ 12:30 pm | The Oakland-born Akinmusire, 28, has been a rising star on the New York scene who more or less met his promise with his forthright Blue Note debut earlier this year, When the Heart Emerges Glistening. The trumpeter mines Coltrane’s ancient depths, recalling the best of the ’60s progressive movement while hewing just this side of free jazz.

Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band | Saturday, Quad Stage @ 12:50 pm | Okay, we can’t claim that Palmieri never gets up here, but at 74, he’s now one of the revered elder statesmen of the music — the great pianist who married McCoy Tyner jazz expansiveness to the tight dance rhythms of salsa.

Steve Coleman & Five Elements | Saturday, Harbor Stage @ 3:30 pm | A crucial alto saxophonist, composer, and conceptualizer, Coleman founded Brooklyn’s M-Base collective in the ’80s with Greg Osby and Cassandra Wilson, and was a key sideman with Dave Holland’s bands. His various “research” tours — to India, Africa, and Cuba — made him a scarce commodity in the ’00s, but he’s back with his longstanding band, Five Elements.

Randy Weston’s African Rhythm Trio | Saturday, Quad Stage @ 5:20 pm | The magisterial 85-year-old pianist — composer of post-bop standards like “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles” — has forged his music from a number of inspirations, but arguably, the two most important are Thelonious Monk and Africa. His trips to Nigeria and, especially, Morocco made the connections between that continent and jazz explicit. Viscerally powerful as well as sublime.

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