357

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

By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge All-Stars at Newport | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Verve Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Jambú" CD/LP/Track Review Jambú
by Joe Gatto
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Luck Child" CD/LP/Track Review Luck Child
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Another Time: The Hilversum Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31" CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.