McBride To Become Next Artistic Director of Newport Jazz Festival


Bassist Christian McBride will be the next artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival

(Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Jazz impresario George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, is stepping down from his directorial role after 62 years. The Newport Festival Foundation announced today that multiple Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride has been named artistic director to work alongside, and eventually succeed, Wein as the festival’s music curator.

Rounding out the production team will be Danny Melnick, a 25-year veteran of Wein’s organization, who will move up to producer from associate producer.

“I am very pleased that Christian McBride is available to join forces with the festival and foundation,” said Wein, 90. “I’m looking forward to working with him as the beacon of the future of Newport Jazz Festivals and continuing to collaborate with Danny to produce some of the world’s finest music events.

“When I first met and heard a teenage Christian McBride in 1989, I knew that he was someone special. Little did I know that nearly 30 years later, he would become the special someone to continue my legacy. The foundation’s board and I feel that the festival is in good hands, and these two music mavericks are more than capable to sustain the festival for decades to come.”

McBride will begin festival strategic planning with Wein and Melnick immediately, and will assume full leadership for the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival. He has been a regular at Newport since his premier at the fest in 1991, and will again take the stage this year with Chick Corea Trilogy on July 29 and 30.

“I am deeply humbled by my appointment as artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival—the most storied and legendary jazz festival in history,” said McBride. “To be able to work with a legend like George Wein, not only as a musician, but now as an understudy, is a task I will cherish and approach with openness and excitement.”

McBride, the 2016 Grammy winner for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, has performed on more than 300 recordings as a sideman, having supported legendary jazz artists like Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis as well as pop icons such as Sting, Bruce Hornsby and Paul McCartney.

As a leader, he has recorded 12 critically acclaimed albums with his quintet, Inside Straight, as well as his big band and trio. His most recent album, Live At The Village Vanguard (Mack Avenue), was released Sept. 18.

In addition to his accomplishments as a sideman and bandleader, McBride is also an influential educator and media host. His radio credits include “The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian” on SiriusXM and “Jazz Night in America,” a weekly syndicated program on National Public Radio.

He also serves as artistic advisor for jazz programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and he works with Jazz House Kids, a community arts organization dedicated to educating children through jazz.

The 2016 Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Global Asset Management will take place July 29–31 at Fort Adams State Park and the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino.

Artists scheduled to perform include pianist Corea with McBride and drummer Brian Blade, pianist Norah Jones and vocalists Gregory Porter and Angélique Kidjo.

Other Newport acts will include saxophonist Kamasi Washington, guitarist John Scofield, saxophonist Joe Lovano, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Robert Glasper.

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