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Ellington At Newport 1956 Original recording remastered, Live

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Live, May 11, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Due to bad mike placement on stage, the original "live" album was actually a studio re-creation; the actual live performance was never issued-until now. This 2-CD set contains the complete original album and the hour-plus concert . More than 100 minutes of new music, and the whole thing's in stereo for the first time!

When Duke Ellington took his orchestra to the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, the band was in need of an uplift, some humongous event that would revitalize its image in the wake of bebop, hard bop, and so many more jazz currents. Ellington got the lift he needed when he called "Diminuendo in Blue" with set-closer "Crescendo in Blue" tacked on the end. Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves got the nod from Ellington to segue from "Diminuendo" to "Crescendo," and he blew doors. With one rousing 27-chorus solo, Gonsalves blew a fever into the crowd and jump-started Ellingtonia for another generation. Trouble with all this is that the living document of the Newport show is almost fully manufactured, recorded in a studio with crowd madness dubbed in. So this two-CD historical correction is an awesome addition to the centennial-era reissues on Columbia (including Anatomy of a Murder, Such Sweet Thunder, First Time: Count Meets the Duke, and Black, Brown and Beige). The producers revisited the Newport gig after four decades because they discovered an extant Voice of America tape--the one whose microphone Gonsalves blew his solo into, and the VOA tape catches the whole Newport set in its organic glory. Alternately tender with layers of brushstroke orchestration and blazing with the band's well-seasoned tightness, this new Newport is one for the generalist and the Ellington completist. It's got the revived original gig as well as the original commercial release. And they make great siblings, illustrative of the live-event charm and the music industry's dogged labors in reinventing it on record. --Andrew Bartlett

Disc: 1
1. Star Spangled Banner
2. Father Norman O'Connor Introduces Duke & The Orchestra/Duke Introduces Tune & Anderson, Jackson...
3. Black And Tan Fantasy
4. Duke Introduces Cook & Tune
5. Tea For Two
6. Duke & Band Leave Stage/Father Norman O'Connor Talks About The Festival
7. Take The A Train
8. Duke Announces Strayhorn's A Train & Nance/Duke Introduces Festival Suite, Part I & Hamilton
9. Festival Suite: Part I - Festival Junction (Live)
10. Duke Announces Soloists; Introduces Part II (Live)
See all 21 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Duke Introduces Johnny Hodges
2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (Live)
3. Jeep's Blues (Live)
4. Duke Calms Crowd; Introduces Nance & Tune
5. Tulip Or Turnip
6. Riot Prevention
7. Skin Deep
8. Mood Indigo
9. Studio Concert (Excerpts)
10. Father Norman O'Connor Introduces Duke Ellington/Duke Introduces New Work, Part I, & Hamilton
See all 19 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 11, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: 1956
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered, Live
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000IMYA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,420 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

201 of 206 people found the following review helpful By N. Dorward on December 3, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is a remarkable, historic release--a 1999 restoration of the classic 1956 Ellington Newport album which includes Paul Gonsalves' famous 27-chorus solo on "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue". Yet I find it hard to disentangle the rights & wrongs of this release.
First, the rights. The original release of the Gonsalves solo was badly flawed because it was played off-mike. Or so it was thought: in fact it turned out that Gonsalves had simply picked the wrong mike, which was hooked up to the Voice of America broadcast of the concert rather than the Columbia engineers' equipment. The VOA tapes were recovered, & engineer Phil Schaap has created a highly acceptable stereo mix by running the VOA recording in one channel, the Columbia recording in the other.
Columbia tried to get the Ellington band to secretly rerecord the entire disc in the studio. They did so, & the majority of the original LP was a studio recreation, with canned applause. Ellington angrily balked at forcing Gonsalves to recreate his original solo, however, & so the version of "Diminuendo and Crescendo" on the LP was indeed the flawed live version. (In addition, the LP included the live version of "Jeep's Blues", & spliced in Ray Nance's live solo on the "Festival Suite" to the studio rerecording. The rest of the LP was the studio recording, including faked emcee banter & announcements.)
So, this is an invaluable, almost miraculous restoration of the original 1956 Newport set; as an appendix, the studio session is included at the end. Yet my verdict would be mixed on whether the new version "improves" the old album. The verdict would be a resounding "Yes!" for the centrepiece of the album: "Diminuendo...".
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Lachance on February 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This re-issue of the Ellington set from the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival is simply the greatest jazz concert ever recorded. Recovering from the 'canned' studio concert which was originally released, this 2-CD set was painstakingly assembled from 2 complete (but unique) mono tape recordings that were originally set aside as 'flawed' and unusable by themselves. One recording from the Columbia microphones and one recording recently discovered from the Voice of America microphones. Upon assembling using modern digital technology, the result is the most amazing live (TRUE) Stereo recording you will ever hear. I have owned this CD for nearly a year and can still listen to it again and again, never tiring of its immense impact, musical genius and state of the art (full frequency!) audio quality. This is REQUIRED listening for any Ellington fan. This is a living, breathing document to seal Ellington in his place as the greatest Jazz icon of the 20th Century. If you listen closely, you will be astounded at the ambiance of this release, whispers and even the delay of the Newport sound system's own monitor speakers echoing through the crowd can be heard...SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Dipstick on February 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
In the 1950s an aging Duke Ellington was floundering in the shifting currents of popular music. The emergence of bebop, cool jazz, and rock-and-roll made Ellington's big band stylings seem dated. Younger musicians scorned him; critics panned him; and audiences ignored him. But the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival gave Ellington his shot at redemption, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. With the world of jazz gathered at his feet, Ellington delivered a masterful performance that awed critics and musicians alike, and sent the audience of 7000 into a riotous frenzy. By skillfully blending rejuvenated versions of old standards (Black and Tan Fantasy, Take the A Train, Sophisticated Lady) with breathtaking new material (Newport Jazz Festival Suite), Ellington both reestablished his jazz credentials and proved his continuing vitality. And then he unleashed Diminuendo in Blue/Crescendo in Blue. For 14 transcendent minutes, Ellington rode the wild musical currents that had been threatening to drown him, and channeled them into a raging torrent that swept away the criticism, scorn, and indifference that he had endured for most of the 1950s. The band rocked wildly and swung subtly. They screeched loudly and moaned softly. They snarled obscenely and purred lovingly. And holding all of this together was a stunning, six minute sax solo by Paul Gonsalves that literally blew apart the phony barriers between jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll.
Columbia quickly released "Ellington at Newport" to capitalize on the Duke's success. But much of this supposedly live album was actually recorded in a studio two days after the Newport performance, complete with canned applause and spoken song introductions for the nonexistent audience.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jon Warshawsky on April 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You do not have to be much of a jazz fan or an Ellington fan to recognize this is one of the most exciting live performances ever recorded. Huge kudos to Columbia Legacy for producing the original recordings of the entire 1956 performance -- if you listen to the studio mock ups (included on Disc 2) that previously passed for the Newport concert, you can appreciate how this album went from patchwork disaster to, in its current form, absolute nirvana.
The songs are especially well chosen -- from Black and Tan Fantasy, to Take the A Train, to Mood Indigo and Skin Deep, these are some of the best of the best. As great as the songs are, the performances will really make you up sit up and listen. Johnny Hodges, Willie Cook, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson and especially Paul Gonsalves with his legendary solo turn in the performances of a lifetime. Ellington's piano is characteristically brilliant.
A big surprise: recording quality is exceptional for a live performance from 45 years ago -- and in stereo, nonetheless (1956 was very early for commercial stereo). I heard only a few places where microphone placement could have been a bit better, but this stands head and shoulders above much of what was recorded in that era.
One minor suggestion: while I admire Columbia's completeness in retaining the old studio-doctored tracks, and applaud the extensive liner notes (five stars in themself), I would have been happy to have only the original concert -- the rest is just a document of how overzealous studio teams could ruin something that was perfect to start. This is really nitpicking, though. Maybe it is important to document what happened, as well as the happy ending.
If you even think that you kind of might like jazz even slightly, or if you are new to Duke Ellington, I would strongly and urgently recommend this album as a starting point. This recording could stand alone as an homage to one of America's national treasures.
You need this album.
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