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: Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years!

Jim Santella By

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Happy Birthday Newport: 50 Swinging Years!

Much as we’d like, we simply cannot attend every jazz festival every year. Returning each season to our favorite ones does work, but there’s still too much to see. While the history of the Newport Jazz Festival recalls many of the greatest moments in jazz, it cannot claim to include all. We see as much as we can, and hope that what we miss has been recorded.

Disc One features several appearances by Louis Armstrong, as well as big band sessions led by Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Armstrong’s ’56 all-stars included Trummy Young and Edmond Hall. His vibrant trumpet and lovable voice were sensational. “Mack the Knife” and “Tin Roof Blues” find the sextet in top form. Eddie Condon performs “Bye an’ Bye” with an ensemble that includes Wild Bill Davison, Peanuts Hucko, Lou McGarity and Bud Freeman. Their timeless interpretation of dixieland includes rich solos from each artist. Ruby Braff leads a hot quintet on an extended take of “Just You, Just Me.” On this track, George Wein stretches out with a perky piano solo to remind the audience of his love for swinging jazz. With Braff, Roy Haynes, Wendell Marshall, and Bud Freeman alongside, the pianist’s glue holds the ensemble together for an affair that would have everyone tappin’ their fingers and toes in the comfort of Newport’s open-air surroundings.

The big winner of Disc One, from 1956, comes with the Ellington Orchestra and tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves. “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” runs for over fourteen minutes, and features Paul Gonsalves for half of that time on a marathon tenor solo. He starts out a little shy and builds gradually to a powerful climax of epic proportions. Throughout it all, the band and audience are heard cheering him on. Inspired, in turn, by his solo, Duke and the band turn out an unforgettable performance for “Crescendo.” The recorded sound turned out quite well, and this particular event has become legendary.

Disc Two includes memorable festival appearances from 1956, ‘57, ’58, ’63, and ‘73. Billie Holiday, who passed away just two years after this appearance, sings “Lover Come Back to Me” with Mal Waldron, Joe Benjamin and Jo Jones. Her voice had changed by then, but nothing could ever dim her unique delivery and her spunk. Coleman Hawkins joins Billy Strayhorn for a slow, quiet interpretation of “Chelsea Bridge,” and the composer embellishes his piece with gentle cascades that move lyrically back and forth.

As is usually the case at a good festival appearance, there’s a mix of all-stars, playing in lineups that don’t appear every day. Clark Terry and Howard McGhee share “Undecided” with Hawkins and Zoot Sims, as Joe Zawinul and Roy Haynes hammer out an exciting backdrop. CT, a personal favorite, left his decidedly original mark on this number, as the septet stretched out for almost eleven minutes. “Avalon” consumed over thirteen minutes, as Roy Eldridge, Al Grey, Lockjaw Davis, Joe Pass, Tommy Flanagan, Keter Betts and Freddie Waits proved that the personnel mixture found at festivals makes them invaluable. Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Mahalia Jackson gave those Newport July audiences something to remember. In a deeply heartfelt rendering, Fitzgerald gave Billie Holiday a personal tribute with her 1973 adaptation of “Good Morning Heartache.” It would have been mighty difficult for those in attendance to hide the tears that would surely have fallen during that one.

Disc Three features appearances by several of the definitive artists in the jazz world, and ends up with “Maiden Voyage” by the V.S.O.P. Quintet, which found Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams at the top of their form in ’76. Collectively, they blended with a dreamy harmonic picture and an unforgettable sound. Trumpet and tenor combined to form a powerful union. Shorter and Hubbard stretched out individually and showered the audience with musical exclamations. Together, they ushered in a new wave of mainstream jazz that would last. Dizzy Gillespie’s ’57 big band, Dave Brubeck’s quartet, Miles Davis’ ’58 sextet, and Monk’s quartet appear on the album, as well. Each provided leadership that would influence generations of budding artists. The collection contains a performance of “’Round Midnight” in 1955 with Miles Davis, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk, Percy Heath, and Connie Kay that has never been released before.

A seventeen-and-a-half minute interpretation of “My Favorite Things” by the John Coltrane quartet must have rocked his 1963 audience to no end. This came several years after his landmark Atlantic recording of the song had begun to carve its place in history. McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Roy Haynes gave this performance as much pizzazz as the original. Trane and Tyner were on fire, and there was no stopping them or slowing them down. Their lengthy exploration of this popular tune mesmerized its audience then as it does now. Moments such as this allow us to look forward to another season of jazz festivals and to look back at some of the greatest moments from previous outings.

Tracks: Disc One: Tin Roof Blues; Mack the Knife; Bye an’ Bye; Echoes of Spring; Just You, Just Me; On the Sunny Side of the Street; Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue; One O’clock Jump; Tiger in Your Tank. Disc Two: Newport Jump; Chelsea Bridge; Undecided; Avalon; Lover Come Back to Me; Back Water Blues; Good Morning Heartache; I’ve Got a Crush on You; I’m Goin’ to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song. Disc Three: ‘Round Midnight; Lover Come Back to Me; I Remember Clifford; Jump for Joy; Black Coffee; Fran Dance; Blue Monk; My Favorite Things; Maiden Voyage.

Personnel: Disc One: Louis Armstrong- trumpet, vocal; Wild Bill Davison- cornet; Roy Eldridge, Ruby Braff, Buck Clayton, Palle Bolvig, Roger Guerin, Dusko Gojkovic, Jose Manuel Magalhaes, Wendell Culley, Joe Newman, Reunald Jones, Cat Anderson, Willie Cook, Ray Nance, Clark Terry- trumpet; Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Trummy Young, Lou McGarity, Jack Teagarden, Christian Kellens, Albert Mangelsdorff, Kurt Jarnberg, Erich Keinschuster, Henry Coker, Benny Powell, Bill Hughes- trombone; Edmond Hall, Peanuts Hucko, Jimmy Hamilton- clarinet; Hans Salomon, Wladimiro Bas Fabache, Andy Marsala, Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Marshall Royal, Bill Graham- alto saxophone; Paul Gonsalves, Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet, Bud Freeman, Bernt Rosengren, Jan Wroblewski, Rudy Rutherford, Georgie Auld, Buddy Tate, Frank Foster, Frank Wess- tenor saxophone; Charles Fowlkes, Harry Carney, Ronnie Ross- baritone saxophone; James Cotton- harmonica; Eddie Condon, Gabor Szabo, Pat Hare, Freddie Green, Kenny Burrell- guitar; George Wein, George Gruntz, Gene Schroeder, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Otis Spann, Ray Bryant, Billy Kyle, Duke Ellington, Count Basie- piano; Dale Jones, Wendell Marshall, Rudolf Jacobs, Andrew Stephenson, Ed Jones, Jimmy Woode, Jack Lesberg, Tommy Bryant- bass; Philly Joe Jones, Barrett Deems, Cliff Leeman, Francey Clay, Jimmy Zitano, Gilberto Cuppini, Roy Haynes, Sam Woodyard, Jo Jones- drums; Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry- vocal, guitar. Disc Two: Howard McGhee, Clark Terry, Buck Clayton, Blue Mitchell, Roy Eldridge- trumpet; Al Grey, Melba Liston, J.J. Johnson- trombone; Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Harold Ousley- tenor saxophone; Sahib Shihab- baritone saxophone; Joe Pass- guitar; Lilton Mitchell- organ; Dick Katz, Mildred Falls, Wynton Kelly, Joe Zawinul, Billy Strayhorn, Mal Waldron, Ellis Larkins, Tommy Flanagan- piano; Oscar Pettiford, Benny Moten, Tommy Bryant, Keter Betts, Paul West, Wendell Marshall, Joe Benjamin- bass; Jo Jones, Freddie Waits, Roy Haynes, Gus Johnson, Sonny Greer, Max Roach- drums; Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson- vocal. Disc Three: Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Ermet Perry, Carl Warwick, Talib Daawud- trumpet; J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Melba Liston, Al Grey, Ray Connor- trombone; Pee Wee Russell- clarinet; Ernie Henry, Jimmy Powell, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley- alto saxophone; John Coltrane- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Benny Golson, Zoot Sims, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Rouse, Billy Mitchell- tenor saxophone; Gerry Mulligan, Pee Wee Moore- baritone saxophone; Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Jones, Wynton Kelly, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Dick Katz, Dave Brubeck- piano; Ron Carter, Bill Crow, Richard Davis, Paul West, Paul Chambers, Butch Warren, Jimmy Garrison, Percy Heath, Joe Benjamin- bass; Tony Williams, Frankie Dunlop, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Cobb, Rudy Collins, Connie Kay, Joe Morello, Charlie Persip- drums; Sarah Vaughan- vocal.


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