“The Newport Jazz Festival, now 61 years old, opened on Friday at Fort Adams State Park with an imperative to broaden its reach, musically and demographically. One woman showed up in a Pat Metheny Unity Band T-shirt; another woman, several decades her junior, was wearing “Thug Life.” Mission accomplished.
These days a nonprofit with an educational mission as the Newport Festivals Foundation (which also includes the annual folk festival), the jazz festival routinely welcomes busloads of high school kids and offers student discounts. College jazz bands typically open each day. This year, there were discussions (moderated by Ashley Kahn) commemorating the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’s debut at Newport. They took place on a new fourth stage, Storyville, in the Fort Adams visitors center, named for Newport impresario George Wein’s first Boston club. Another historical connection. And the music ran the gamut from the gnarliest avant-garde to, well, Dr. John.“