357

Roy Eldridge: Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge All-Stars at Newport

Samuel Chell By

Sign in to view read count
Roy Eldridge: Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge All-Stars at Newport After the triumphant, news-making appearance by the Duke Ellington Orchestra the preceding year, the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival was eagerly awaited by Verve impresario Norman Granz, no doubt hopeful of replicating the success of the best-selling album of Ellington's entire career (Ellington at Newport 1956 Complete, Columbia/Legacy). Although Verve's releases marking the 50th anniversary of the mother of all jazz festivals don't disappoint, there's much that's unlikely to strike the present-day listener as essential or even historic.

The Coleman Hawkins-Roy Eldridge set was one of those spirited, fiery affairs that no doubt sounded better at the time than when revisited a half century later. Both musicians are in peak form, as is especially apparent on the opening "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" and the closer, "Sweet Georgia Brown." Bean readily slips into the unrelenting gear that made him a virtual one-man rhythm section while Little Jazz displays the formidable high-register chops that led jazz historians to proclaim him the missing link between Armstrong and Gillespie. But there are undeniably some sour notes on the session.

The third member of the frontline, altoist Pete Brown, is either authentically primitive or presciently avant-garde, depending on one's point of view. His fragmented, choppy lines and frequently abrasive and clawing, pitch-approximate tone could be seen as a harbinger of the free-form experimentation of the decade to follow. But listeners of this relatively brief set (40 minutes) are likely to wish for more solo time by Hawkins, Eldridge and pianist Ray Bryant. Unfortunately, as well as Hawkins plays, he's off mic and occasionally muffled in the mix whereas Brown's horn is front and forward.

The rhythm section is a high-profile, formidable threesome with plenty of firepower—yet never quite finding "the groove." On the ballad medley, Hawkins' solo on one of his favorite vehicles, "Moonglow," sounds more plodding than inviting (the tempo is somewhat slow for the tune, and drummer Jo Jones passes up opportunities to provide a lift through some judicious double-timing). Bassist Al McKibbon is, as usual, steady as a rock, but his instrument sounds like it has been electronically boosted at some point during post-production.

Despite the heat generated during the set, pianist Ray Bryant avoids anything like meltdown mode, submitting solos that are light, good-humored and ceaselessly inventive. As recorded, his piano tones are fuller and clearer than Hawkins' tenor saxophone. Still, one can't help but wonder how much of a difference the usual Norman Granz pairing of pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Ray Brown would have made on this occasion.

All in all, this is one recorded highlight from yesteryear perhaps just as well forgotten, except perhaps by Hawkins and Eldridge completists—or those who were in attendance (though reliving a golden memory has a way of making it forgettable). For a contemporaneous but far more scintillating Hawkins-led jam session, with a cast including Charlie Shavers, Billy Butterfield and Urbie Green, look for Session at the Riverside (Capitol, 1957).


Track Listing: I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me; Day by Day; Embraceable You; Moonglow; Sweet Georgia Brown.

Personnel: Coleman Hawkins: tenor saxophone; Roy Eldridge: trumpet; Pete Brown: alto saxophone; Ray Bryant: piano; Al McKibbon: bass; Jo Jones: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Verve Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Tuesday Prayers" CD/LP/Track Review Tuesday Prayers
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 29, 2016
Read "Eastern Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Eastern Smiles
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Ripple" CD/LP/Track Review Ripple
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974" CD/LP/Track Review Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Negative Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Negative Spaces
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!