Ellington At Newport 1956 Original recording remastered, Live
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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...".Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great concert album recorded over a couple of days before live audiences, redone into a double CD set. Read morePublished 2 months ago by normac
EXCELLENT CD. Almost the "last blast" for the Duke. Be sure to read the story of this CD and how it came to be. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Allan Block
This takes you back to a moment of American history. The music transports you. It's quite breathtaking.Published 7 months ago by LakersFan