Prince Albert II Visits Jazz Fest

Prince Albert of Monaco waves during the Saint Devote ceremony in Monaco in this January 27, 2004 file photograph. Prince Albert has acknowledged having fathered an illegitimate child with a former Air France flight attendant from Togo, his lawyer said Wednesday, July 6, 2005.
Prince Albert II of Monaco will attend the opening-night concert of the Newport Jazz Festival on Friday, part of an anniversary celebration of the 1956 film "High Society," which starred his mother, Grace Kelly.

Set against the scenic backdrop of Newport and its storied mansions, "High Society" was Kelly's last film before her marriage to Prince Rainier III. She then became Princess Grace.

The musical comedy also starred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, with original music by Cole Porter. Louis Armstrong sang the title song.

The Friday-night concert, a tribute to Sinatra, will be performed by guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli, who opened concerts for Ol' Blue Eyes in the early 1990s.

"There's an extra, added excitement to the whole thing," Pizzarelli said in a phone interview from his country home in New York State. "It's more than just a music story, it seems, at this point."

The weekend festivities will include a private dinner-dance gala for Albert, 48, at Marble House, constructed as a Vanderbilt family summer "cottage," where "High Society" will be screened in different rooms.

"Newport has always been the sort of resort of royalty in the northeastern United States," said Brian O'Neill, owner of the Carnegie Abbey Club in nearby Portsmouth. The exclusive golf, equestrian and yachting club invited Albert to Newport.

Founded in 1954 and now formally known as the JVC Jazz Festival-Newport, the festival has hosted a who's who of jazz over the years.

Miles Davis made a memorable comeback performance at a jam session in 1955, followed a year later by Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Sinatra, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Harry Connick Jr. have also played Newport.

The festival runs through Sunday. Other featured performers include jazz guitarist George Benson and pianist Dave Brubeck.

Festival founder George Wein, now 80, said he was looking forward to meeting Albert, and acknowledged that his attendance was good for publicity.

"If he comes to Newport and he wants to see jazz, he's got to be a nice guy," Wein said. "Nice people go to jazz festivals."
By Eric Tucker