Sunday, May 07, 2006

6. Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport (1956)

Track Listing

Disc: 1
1. Star Spangled Banner
2. Father Norman O'conner Introduces
3. Black And Tan Fantasy
4. Duke Introduce Cook & Tune
5. Tea For Two
6. Talk About The Festival
7. Take The A Train
8. Duke Announces Strayborn's A Train & Nance/Duke Introducess
9. Part I -Festival Junction
10. Duke Announces Nance & Procope
11. Part Ii-Blues To Be There
12. Duke Announces Nance & Procope
13. Part Iii-Newport Up
14. Duke Announces Hamilton,Gonsalves & Terry/Duke Introduce Car
15. Sophisticated Lady
16. Duke Announces Grisson & Tune
17. Day In,Day Out
18. Duke Troduce Tune(S) And Paul Gonstaves Interludes
19. Diminuendo In Blue And Crescendo In Blue
20. Announcements,Pandemonium
21. Pause Track

Disc: 2
1. Duke Introduce Johnny Holges
2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
3. Jeep's Blues
4. Duke Calms Crowd,Introduces Nace & Tune
5. Tulip Or Turnip
6. Riot Prevention
7. Skin Deep
8. Mood Indigo
9. Studio Concert
10. Father Norman O'connor Introduces Duke Eillington To
11. Part I- Festival Juncion
12. Duke Announces Soloists:Introduxe Part Ii
13. Part Ii-Blues To Be There
14. Duke Announces Nance & Procope,Introduces Part Iii
15. Part Iii-Newport Up
16. Duke Announces Hamilton,Gonsalves & Terry/Pause/Duke Introd
17. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
18. Jeep's Blues
19. Pause Track


This review is not actually of the album put out in 1956, but actually of the 1999 re-issue. This is for the reason that the album put out in 1956 was actually a studio "reconstruction" of the concert. There were some problems with the original recording and therefore Ellington and his band went into the studio and re-recorded the album. I am reviewing the actual live concert which was recovered, remastered and re-issued in 1999 in all its original glory. The concert itself was a huge event. At the end of Diminuendo, Track 19 on CD 1, a riot broke out among the audience, and in the re-issue you can hear Ellington trying to calm down the public etc.. So this re-issue is the important recording, not so much what came out in 1956.

That said, this album is actually too much of a good thing. I like Duke Ellington, I always loved Take the "A" Train and so on. But this forty tracks long "tour de force", which includes the original concert and the studio recording which was put out in 1956, makes you exhausted after the first hearing, and after the third I definitely need not to listen to Ellington for a while. Don't take me wrong, this is definately a "tour de force" the band is amazing, and you can see why riots broke out during the concert. More than that, it's a precious historical document and a testament to the power of music. But it's something like two hours long. Add to that the extremely boring intermissions, particularly those where Father Norman O'Connor does his interventions, and this album can definitely take a bit of editing. By my third listen I cut out all the overlapping versions, leaving out the studio recordings, as well as the spoken bits and it was a much more enjoyable experience. Still, there are some amazing tracks here, Tea for Two, Sophisticated Lady, the above mentioned Diminuendo and Take the "A" Train are all astounding, as is Black and Tan Fantasy and even Star Spangled Banner and Mood Indigo.

Basically this album definitely deserves a listen, and as I am writing I am bobbing my head to Diminuendo. If only some bits of it were a bit more edited. Yet listen to it at least one time all the way through, particularly due to the impressive bits after the riot breaks out. Then, use your discretion and cut out what bores you.

I streamed this album from Napster.

Or buy it at Amazon: UK or US

Sorry if I'm a bit more serious today, but boy, do I have a hangover.

Track Highlights

1. Diminuendo In Blue And Crescendo In Blue
2. Take The "A" Train
3. Tea For Two
4. Black And Tan Fantasy

Final Grade



Hangovers are not funny.


Geoffrey Hogswash said...

Now I don't know much about jazz but I know what I like. From what I've listened to on this infamous deathwish list so far, I like the cool style of Miles Davis more than anyone. Mr. Ellington's is real big band jazz and I don't think it suits the record format as well as Miles Davis's albums do.

Fortunately, this is a live recording so it captures the Duke while he's at his most charming. Listening to both versions of the Newport concert (one live, one studio) we can easily hear how much more comfortable Duke Ellington and his band are in front of a crowd.

One of the remarkable things about this album is the story it tells. Pandemonium and riots are heard on record capturing how exciting these live bands were at the time. The studio version is almost dead as a result. So this album is about much more than the music. It's a great testament to Jazz's popularity in the 50s.

Francisco Silva said...

Jack: Yeah, I'm pretty sure you can even get better versions of all the songs here by Ellington on other recordings, however it's the context of the album that makes it earn its place on the list.