Similar to Tuesday night’s indulgence, I’m righting another wrong this evening by listening to another album that’s been in my collection for, like, ever, yet I’ve never actually listened to it. Of course, I was originally going to go to the gym and lift some weights this evening prior to going out on Date night, but then I opted out for some mellow Jazz Boner instead…sue me.
Tonight’s listening pleasure then is the ‘Ellington at Newport‘ album by Duke Ellington.
‘Ellington at Newport’ is a 1956 live jazz album by Ellington and his band of their 1956 concert at the Newport Jazz Festival, a concert which revitalized Ellington’s flagging career. Jazz promoter George Wein describes the 1956 concert as “the greatest performance of [Ellington’s] career… It stood for everything that jazz had been and could be”. It is included in the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’, which ranks it “one of the most famous… in jazz history”.
Shame then I’ve never gotten around to listening to before.
Ellington’s appearance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival has long been famous, and justifiably so. Paul Gonsalves’ 27-chorus tenor solo on ‘Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue‘ practically started a riot at Newport and made headlines around the world. The momentum generated by this concert led to Ellington’s comeback and never let up during his 18 remaining years.
After a brief truncated set that was cut short because four of Ellington’s musicians could not be found, the Ellington Orchestra returned to the stage three hours later. A double CD put out in 1999 presents the entire concert performance, previously unheard material, and a few other revelations.
However, this is the original LP. Included here is the ‘Newport Jazz Festival Suite‘, the infamous aforementioned ‘Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue‘ where the saxophone interlude caused crazed dancing, and soon the crowd was as loud as the band. When the crowd would not quiet down, Ellington saved the day by closing with a long version of “Skin Deep’…but that’s only this album.
‘Jeep’s Blues‘ instead closes out Side Two.
However, there’s a little known secret to this album. Unknown to most people is that on July 9th, the orchestra went to the studios to reproduce the program. The earlier version of the ‘Newport Jazz Festival Suite‘ had been a bit sloppy and Gonsalves‘ famous tenor solo on ‘Diminuendo‘ had actually been played into the wrong microphone. Ellington’s band therefore performed the entire ‘Newport Jazz Festival Suite’ again and it was issued (with phony applause, introductions, and crowd noises) on this original LP.