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Newport Jazz Festival tour celebrates its 40th anniversary

Newport Jazz Festival tour celebrates its 40th anniversary

Historic festival goes on the road to bring power of jazz to a
new generation

By Phillip Hong

Jazz, a simple, humble word for the power of music, will be
clearly defined at the Wadsworth Theater Saturday, as the Newport
Jazz Festival on Tour pays a visit to Los Angeles.

"An 18-piece band that will play a couple of heads (standards)
and then just let each featured artist go off," says KLON (88.1 FM)
DJ Chuck Niles, who will also be on hand as a guest lecturer just
prior to the event.

"It’s a very successful format to get several excellent players
in the spotlight," he adds.

Forty years ago on the grass tennis courts of the Newport
Casino, the jazz movement found itself a playground when the very
first all-jazz festival took place.

A year later Miles Davis came out of his heroin addiction and
reclaimed the title of the trumpet king at Newport.

Year after year, countless greats like Dizzy Gillespie and
Billie Holiday paid tribute to a cornucopia of rhythms, chord
structures and improvisation at Newport.

Now, in celebration of its 40th Anniversary, the Newport Jazz
Festival has taken its show on the road featuring talents such as
trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison. Under the direction of Jon Faddis,
the gathering of 18 superhot jazz musicians will perform music from
three periods of jazz.

The diversity of jazz and its wide range of eclectic musical
expression has given it a lasting power that finds its way into
each successive generation of young people.

Hip-hop owes a lot of its sound to jazz, yet manages to preserve
the spirit of the music by not simply stealing the beats but
manipulating the music to create a colorful background for their
lyrical message.

Acid jazz merges the sound of hip-hop with traditional jazz even
more by both sampling from old jazz recordings and layering it with
live musical performers.

Even the world of traditional jazz itself is being pushed in new
directions by groups such as B-Sharp and Black Note.

Adding a touch of youthful energy, today’s new artists are not
only paying tribute to the music of jazz but are keeping the genre
fresh, performing and arranging the music within the context of
society today.

"It’s wonderful ­ we were a new generation once, and when I
play the music of the younger groups I see that the direction is a
continuum of the music that has been playing for years," says

Some may find Niles and KLON’s commercial-free jazz radio a
haven from the commercials and played-out tunes on your radio
presets of 106.7, 105.9, 97.1 or 92.3.

Niles’ raspy voice soothes the frustrated commuter between the
hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. As a DJ of jazz radio for over 20 years,
Niles is something of a jazz legend himself.

"I do what I do, and I’ve established my own style. It’s
sometimes dramatic and sometimes really corny, but so be it. The
point is that I’m having fun. I like to go with the music and give
it to the people."

For all ranges of jazz listeners, the Newport Jazz Festival on
Tour promises to be not just a concert, but an event.

"I hope that audiences have fun and enjoy the talented
musicians. The evening is really a study of the thematics and
appreciation of the artistry of having fun. It takes a lot of
talent and involves a deep understanding of music."

FESTIVAL: Wadsworth Theater, Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Niles’
Lecture at 7 p.m. TIX: available at the CTO for $30, $27 and $11
(students with ID). For more info call (310) 825-2101.

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