ALTO MASTER Miguel Zenón.
SUNDAY:: Prepare thyself to deal with the beauty of the saxophone at today's NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL: it's a day of resounding horn players. The seductive murmur of CHARLES LLOYD's tenor has never sounded better than it has in the last several years. His ECM work has trumped his Atlantic sides in terms of eloquence and legacy. Lloyd's Sangam trio with trap drummer Eric Harland and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain puts his sax lines in a revealing setting. Their luminous arcs usually ride a groove that becomes quite enchanting as the momentum builds. JOSHUA REDMAN also has a glow to his solos. Earlier this summer I watched his current band James Farm turn the tunes from their impressive Nonesuch debut into vehicles for deep interplay. Along with bassist Matt Penman and pianist Aaron Parks, percussionist Harland is part of the collective outfit, and his incessant drive helped Redman achieve liftoff time after time. There's also plenty of thrust behind alto master MIGUEL ZENÓN, who will bring the music from his new Alma Adentro (Marsalis Music) to the stage. The program contains updates of classic pieces from the Puerto Rican songbook arranged for jazz quartet and a woodwind tentet led by the celebrated bandleader GUILLERMO KLEIN. Zenón is one of those guys who makes your jaw drop, and his foursome can be unusually telepathic when it comes to rounding corners and negotiating intersections. RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA was recently named Alto Saxophonist of the Year by DownBeat magazine, and deservedly so. The fire and focus that comes from the bandleader's ax is daunting. His collaboration with alto elder BUNKY GREEN had more than a little to do with the victory, of course. The critically championed Apex (Pi Recordings) finds the pair exchanging volley after volley, as they will on the Newport stage. Green, a patriarch of the Chicago scene, has inspired Mahanthappa for ages. Their collaboration is an insightful intergener-ational exchange. STEVE COLEMAN is another Bunky acolyte. Intriguingly, he's also a mentor to Zenón; methinks there will be lots of high-flying spirits when Coleman, Miguel, and RAVI COLTRANE set up shop in front of a mic in a sax summit situation. Coltrane is a resourceful soprano and tenor player who has forged an engaging persona during the last few years. I particularly like the way he treats Monk with a bit of roughness, the kind of push and shove that the master's tunes can stand up to. The last time I caught his working band, they sliced and diced "Epistrophy" like zen swordsmen. One final sax hero? TONY MALABY. He'll be part of JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE, and when he gets the green light to take one of the percussionist/bandleader's charts to the next level, watch out: the honking and wailing become one, and the poetic expressionism of his lines moves right to the forefront. Hollenbeck's crew is remarkable in general. They just won DownBeat's best big band designation thanks to the clever designs found on Eternal Interlude (Sunnyside), a record that defines what ensemble work can be in the modern era. Make sure to arrive on time to absorb their wallop (they perform at 11:20 am). It's a tough choice for large ensemble lovers, actually. THE MINGUS BIG BAND, a group that has been delivering the raucous beauty of the maestro's book for decades now, also has plenty of whomp, and hit the stage at 11:30. Otherwise, trumpeter AVISHAI COHEN's outfit, bassist ESPERANZA SPALDING's ensemble, and a pianist by the name of DAVE BRUBECK should all tickle you plenty from 11 am to 7 pm | $93-$69 | newportjazzfest.net
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