Drummer Herlin Riley’s New York-Havana Connection quintet opened the main stage on Sunday morning, August 5, the final day of the 2018 edition of the storied Newport Jazz Festival.
Riley began his set with a front-of-stage solo on a conch shell, it’s deep horn-like sound emulating the horns carried by some of the ships anchored yards offshore in picturesque Newport Harbor.
Riley’s band included saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Eric Lewis, bassist Russell Hall and Havana-born percussionist Alexey Marti, who moved from Cuba to New Orleans 10 years ago, hence the Havana connection.
The State of Rhode Island and the Newport Festival Foundation unveiled an agreement this month to continue the jazz and folk festivals for at least 25 years at Fort Adams State Park, the jazz festival’s picturesque home since 1981. The foundation also signed a 40-year lease to transform the former Museum of Yachting, a brick building now housing the Storyville stage, into a festivals museum.