Listen to guitarist Cory Wong live from the Newport Jazz Festival : NPR

Cory Wong at the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival

Adam Kissick/Newport Jazz


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Adam Kissick/Newport Jazz


Cory Wong at the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival

Adam Kissick/Newport Jazz

Cory Wong is many things: “There’s guitar nerds, there’s jazz nerds, there’s funk nerds. And I’m one of those,” Wong says , who can also add songwriter, first-call musical collaborator and talk show host to his resume. This breadth of experience can be felt and heard in every moment Cory lays his six strings on – especially his joyful musical production as a bandleader.

We caught up with Cory and his aptly named backing band, the Wongnotes, on the main stage of the 2021 Newport Jazz Festival to capture a show as sunny as the summer weather. The Minnesota native presented us with an eclectic list of acts talking about his tastes and his past – triggered by a moment seeing the group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones in his youth. “I needed to see this to…give me permission to do what I’m doing,” Wong says. “Jazz meets funk meets R&B meets pop, meets all these other things… These cats make it happen. I can find my unique voice on the instrument and really try.”

The musicians:

Cory Wong, guitar; Sam Greenfield, alto saxophone; Kenni Holmen, tenor saxophone; Sly5th Ave, baritone saxophone; Steve Strand, trumpet; Jon Lampley, trumpet; Michael Nelson, trombone; Kevin Gastonguay, keyboards; Sonny Thompson, bass; Petar Janjic, drums; Negah Santos, percussion

Define list:

(All music by Cory Wong)

  • Lunch time
  • Gumshu
  • Meditation
  • Welcome to Minneapolis
  • St. Paul
  • jet howler
  • Click the bait
  • Without cosmic

Credits: Writers and producers: Trevor Smith and Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Vice President of Visuals and Strategy at NPR Music: Keith Jenkins; Executive producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand.

Live music recording and mixing: Steve Remote, Aura-Sonic Limited for Newport Festivals Foundation LLC; On-site sound engineers: Graham Tobias, Steve Kolakowsky; Wrangler Recorded Media: Ken McGee; Additional Field Production: Sarah Geledi

Special thanks to Newport Festivals Archivist Billy Glassner, Newport Festivals Foundation, Dan Rucinski and Jake Hartsfield

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