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Day Trip — Newport Jazz Festival

  • Dave Brubeck, maybe? -- Steve
  • The entry court garden at Rosecliff in Newport, R.I.
  • Clockwise from left: Arthur Oliver, Apollo Dukakis, John Douglas Thompson, Paula Langton, Olympia Dukakis, Brooke Parks, Tony Simotes. Photo by Enrico Spada
  • The Ko Festival of Performance continues with "fo n' ale," a "visual poem" by the First Genersation Ensemble, this weekend in Holden Theater at Amherst College.
  • The Amherst Cinema's Martin Scorsese Film Festival kicks off with a screening of "Raging Bull" Sunday.
  • Yidstock continues with a family concert by The Wholesale Klezmer Band Sunday at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst.

The Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island has been home to performances by some of the country’s most legendary jazz musicians: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. As the oldest jazz festival in the country, it’s long built a reputation as a premier showcase that keeps the best players of each generation coming back time and again.

The Newport festival got its start in 1954 under the direction of its first impresario, George Wein, a music promoter and producer who’s been called “the most important non-player ... in jazz history.” Wein went on to start festivals in other cities, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and in 1959 he cofounded the Newport Folk Festival, the counterpart to the town’s jazz fest.

Noted performers at this year’s jazz festival include Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, as well as emerging artists Hiromi, Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter and Miguel Zenon.

The three-day concert takes place from Friday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 4. The festival opens Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino, 194 Bellevue Ave., Newport, R.I. On Saturday and Sunday, the music is presented at Fort Adam State Park, on Harrison Ave. in Newport.

If you’re looking to stay both days, there are a few campgrounds within 20 minutes of the state park. Check www.gonewport.com/campgrounds for listings. Single-day tickets to the festival range from $40 to $100. Information and purchasing links are available at www.newportjazzfest.com.

If getting a ticket isn’t an option, the jazz festival is hardly the only thing to do in Newport. The Preservation Society of Newport County maintains 11 historic mansions and properties. As well, the Newport Cliff Walk follows the bending path along the town’s eastern shore on Long Island Sound, combining glimpses of the architectural history of the Gilded Age with the natural beauty of the shoreline. Tours of individual and multiple estates can be arranged through www.newportmansions.org.

Directions: Take I-91 south and get on the MassPike heading east toward Boston. After just over 48 miles, take exit 10A toward US-20/MA-146 Worcester/Providence. Turn right onto the Mass. 146 South ramp to Millbury/Providence and merge onto MA-146 South/ Worcester Providence Turnpike. Continue south, then take the exit onto I-295 South toward Warwick and merge onto I-95 South. Keep to the left to continue on RI-4 South/Col Rodman Highway and follow signs for North Kingston. Continue onto U.S. 1 South/Tower Hill Road, then merge onto RI-138 East via the ramp to Jamestown/Newport, over the bridge and into Newport.

— Marc E. Latour

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