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Extended Analysis

Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years

By Published: October 23, 2004
Various Artists
Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years
Columbia Legacy

Other than going one more time, what better way to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of America's oldest continuing and best known jazz festival than by listening to 27 of its finest and most unusual moments? Festival producer George Wein teamed up with Sony to collect three CDs worth of historic material recorded live at Newport. Most tracks were recorded between 1955 (year two) and 1963 in Newport, with four more gems added from 1973 and 1976 Newport at New York concerts. All qualify as classic and historic, even though the result wasn't always what Wein hoped for when he assembled various bands. Some exceeded those expectations, while one got an "E" for effort.

There are three poignant tracks by Louis Armstrong—two with his All-Stars in 1956 and one with a Marshall Brown-directed Newport International Jazz Band in 1958. There is also, of course, the "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" moment (with tenor man Paul Gonsalves' 27-bar chorus) that revived Duke's career to the extent that he later claimed he was born in Newport in 1956.

Other tracks of note include a version of "'Round Midnight" from a Miles Davis appearance in 1955 (previously unavailable commercially) that marked his first career reemergence. He performed that set with Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk and Percy Heath and Connie Kay. Each of the tracks is accompanied by Wein's recollections of the moments or the musicians involved during his storied career. Of the Davis moment, Wein recounts a moment also told in his recent autobiography: "Miles came off and whispered, 'Tell Monk he played the wrong changes.' I said, 'Tell him yourself. He wrote the song.'"

Basie is here. So is Willie "The Lion" Smith. And Sarah. And Muddy Waters. And Mahalia Jackson. And Dizzy. And Eddie Condon, whose first appearance formally opened the festival in 1954, though this track was an allstar moment from 1956. There's also a 1958 appearance with Billy Strayhorn at the piano for a version of "Chelsea Bridge" featuring Ben Webster. A late-career Billie Holiday sings a knowing and somewhat teasing version of "Lover, Come Back to Me." Two tracks later, from a 1973 Carnegie Hall appearance, Ella Fitzgerald tells the audience: "For those who've never heard Miss Billie Holiday...for the younger must try to find an album" before swinging into "Good Morning, Heartache." The most recent track is the 1976 New York appearance by V.S.O.P. The Quintet. The "E" for effort belongs to Wein's 1963 pairing of Monk and clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, from which he hoped would be something special by these two unique improvisers. It started out with potential—but Monk barely touched the keys during Russell's solo.

Space doesn't permit covering all of the moments, but it is only fitting that a track from the original Dave Brubeck Quartet ("Jump for Joy") is included. For this 50th anniversary Newport Jazz Festival will be Brubeck's 32nd appearance in Newport. He'll open the festival Aug. 11th—two nights earlier than usual with a sacred music concert of his work "The Gates of Justice," then return with his quartet for an Aug. 14th Fort Adams performance. He's on a bill that for the first time since the festival returned to Newport in 1981 is a pure jazz lineup—with no crossover acts, no R&B, no pop, no smoothies to swell ticket sales. And on three simultaneous stages for up to eight hours each day. Call it heaven for jazz purists. "There is only one star at this festival—and that's jazz," Wein said this spring. "Hopefully this will be one of the greatest festivals we've ever produced."

Track listing: 1 Tin Roof Blues Armstrong, Louis & ... 4:33 2 Mack the Knife (A Theme from the Threepenny Opera) Armstrong, Louis & ... 4:01 3 Bye an' Bye Condon, Eddie And His All Stars 5:20 4 Echoes of Spring Smith, Willie "The Lion" 3:28 5 Just You, Just Me Newport All-Stars 7:09 6 On the Sunny Side of the Street Louis Armstrong ... 6:22 7 Diminuendo in Blue Ellington, Duke & H ... 14:21 8 One O'Clock Jump Basie, Count Orchestra 9:21 9 Tiger in Your Tank Watters, Muddy Band 4:18 10 Newport Jump Clayton, Buck All-Stars 5:47 11 Chelsea Bridge Ben Webster ... 3:38 12 Undecided Newport "House" Band 10:50 13 Avalon Jazz At Carnegie Hall All-Stars 13:15 14 Lover, Come Back to Me Billie Holiday 2:06 15 Back Water Blues Dinah Washington 4:43 16 Good Morning Heartache Ella Fitzgerald 5:28 17 I've Got a Crush on You Ella Fitzgerald 2:21 18 I'm Goin' to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song Mahalia Jakcson 4:24 19 'Round About Midnight [#] Miles Davis 6:01 20 Lover, Come Back to Me Jay, Kai 5:25 21 I Remember Clifford Gillespie, Dizzy Bi ... 4:22 22 Jump for Joy Brubeck, Dave Quartet 5:22 23 Black Coffee Sarah Vaughan 3:42 24 Fran Dance Davis, Miles Sextet 7:09 25 Blue Monk Monk, Thelonious Quartet ... 11:23 26 My Favorite Things Coltrane, John Quartet 17:25 27 Maiden Voyage V.S.O.P. The Quintet 13:14

Personnel: Cannonball Adderley: Alto Saxophone; Cat Anderson: Trumpet; Louis Armstrong: Trumpet, Vocals; Count Basie: Piano; Joe Benjamin: Bass; Keter Betts: Bass; Palle Bolvig: Trumpet; Ruby Braff: Trumpet; Marshall Brown: Director; Dave Brubeck: Piano; Tommy Bryant: Bass; Harry Carney: Baritone Saxophone; Ron Carter: Bass; Paul Chambers: Bass; Francis Clay: Drums; Buck Clayton: Trumpet; Jimmy Cobb: Drums; Henry Coker: Trombone; Rudy Collins: Drums; John Coltrane: Tenor Saxophone; Eddie Condon: Guitar; Willie Cook: Trumpet; James Cotton: Harmonica; Bill Crow: Bass; Wendell Culley: Trumpet; Gil Cuppini: Drums; Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis; Tenor Saxophone; Miles Davis: Trumpet; Richard Anthony Davis: Bass; Wild Bill Davison: Cornet; Talib Dawud: Trumpet; Barrett Deems: Drums; Paul Desmond: Alto Saxophone; Frankie Dunlop: Drums; Roy Eldridge: Trumpet; Duke Ellington: Piano; Bill Evans: Piano; Wladimiro Bas Fabache: Alto Saxophone; Mitchell Falls: Piano; Ella Fitzgerald: Vocals; Tommy Flanagan: Piano; Frank Foster: Tenor Saxophone; Charlie Fowlkes: Baritone Saxophone; Bud Freeman: Tenor Saxophone; Jimmy Garrison: Bass; Dizzy Gillespie: Trumpet; Dusco Gojkovic: Trumpet; Benny Golson: Tenor Saxophone; Paul Gonsalves: Tenor Saxophone; Bill Graham: Alto Saxophone; Freddie Green: Guitar; Sonny Greer: Drums; Al Grey: Trombone; George Gruntz: Piano; Roger Guerin: Trumpet; Edmond Hall: Clarinet; Jimmy Hamilton: Clarinet; John Hammond, Sr.: Producer; Herbie Hancock: Piano; Roy Haynes: Drums; Pat Hare: Guitar; Coleman Hawkins: Tenor Saxophone; Roy Haynes: Drums; Percy Heath: Bass; Ernie Henry: Alto Saxophone; Johnny Hodges: Alto Saxophone; Billie Holiday: Vocals; Freddie Hubbard: Trumpet; Peanuts Hucko: Clarinet; Bill Hughes: Trombone; Mahalia Jackson: Vocals; Quentin Jackson: Trumpet; Rudolf Jacobs: Bass; Illinois Jacquet: Tenor Saxophone; Kurt Jarnberg: Trombone; Gus Johnson: Drums; J.J. Johnson: Trombone; Dale Jones: Bass; Ed Jones: Bass; Jimmy Jones: Piano; Jo Jones: Drums; Reunald Jones: Trumpet; Dick Katz: Piano; Connie Kay: Drums; Christian Kellens: Trombone; Wynton Kelly: Piano; Erich Kleinschuster: Trombone; Billy Kyle: Piano; Ellis Larkins: Piano; Cliff Leeman: Drums; Jack Lesberg: Bass; Melba Liston: Trombone; Jose Manuel Magalhaes: Trumpet; Albert Mangelsdorff: Trombone; Wendell Marshall: Bass; Lou McGarity: Trombone; Howard McGhee: Trumpet; Billy Mitchell: Tenor Saxophone; Blue Mitchell: Trumpet; Lilton Mitchell: Organ; Thelonious Monk: Piano; Pee Wee Moore: Baritone Saxophone; Joe Morello: Drums; Lee Morgan: Trumpet; Benny Moten: Bass; Gerry Mulligan: Baritone Saxophone; Ray Nance: Trumpet; Joe Newman: Trumpet; Harold Ousley: Tenor Saxophone; Joe Pass: Guitar; Ernest V. Perry: Trumpet; Charlie Persip: Drums; Oscar Pettiford: Bass; Benny Powell: Trombone; Jimmy Powell: Alto Saxophone; Russell Procope: Alto Saxophone; Max Roach: Drums; Ronnie Ros: Baritone Saxophone; Bernt Rosengren: Tenor Saxophone; Charlie Rouse: Tenor Saxophone; Marshall Royal: Alto Saxophone; Pee Wee Russell: Clarinet; Hans Salomon: Alto Saxophone; John Sanders: Trombone; Gene Schroeder: Piano; Sahib Shihab: Baritone Saxophone; Wayne Shorter: Tenor Saxophone; Zoot Sims Sax: (Tenor); Willie "The Lion" Smith: Piano; Otis Spann: Piano; Andrew Stephenson: Bass; Billy Strayhorn: Piano; Gabor Szabo: Guitar; Clark Terry: Trumpet; McCoy Tyner: Piano; Sarah Vaughan: Vocals; Freddie Waits: Drums; Mal Waldron: Piano; Butch Warren: Bass; Carl Warwick: Trumpet; Dinah Washington: Vocals; Muddy Waters: Guitar, Vocals; Ben Webster: Tenor Saxophone; Frank Wess: Tenor Saxophone; Paul West: Bass; Tony Williams: Drums; Kai Winding: Trombone; Jimmy Woode: Bass; Britt Woodman: Trombone; Sam Woodyard: Drums; Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski: Tenor Saxophone; Lester Young: Tenor Saxophone; Trummy Young: Trombone; Joe Zawinul: Piano; Jimmy Zitano: Drums.

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