Album #6 – Ellington At Newport


This album has achieved a first during this challenge: the first album in the challenge that I (REALLY!!!) did not like. Maybe it was because I was tired and depressed and was not in the mood for happy music. Maybe it was because this album (the original version) was heavily overdubbed because Ellington was not happy with the direction and quality of the actual Newport recordings. Maybe it was because this album reminded me of watching The Lawrence Welk Show as a kid and those instrumental numbers the band did without the One-anna-two-anna… and the sub-par musicians. Or maybe it was the annoying canned audience noise. Whatever it was, I didn’t like the album. It was extremely boring. I like Jazz immensely. But, I don’t really like Big Bands. I like the Jazz that Miles Davis and John Coltrane did. It was cool how Ellington introduced each song. But, other than that, I was not at all impressed with this album. The fake cheers and applause make this feel more like a rock concert. It is not the Jazz I know and love. There is no heart and soul in this. Ellington is a great musician and I respect him for it. But, after finding and listening to the original 1956 version of this album, I do not see why this album was such a big deal and why he made the cover of Time Magazine. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.

Next: Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! by Frank Sinatra

    • pete
    • September 8th, 2010

    That’s too bad, hope you give it another chance some time… there’s a story behind the cheering going on. This was recorded during a low ebb in Ellington’s career, and during Paul Gonsalves’ solo on “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”, a beautiful blonde woman got up and started dancing. Duke saw her out of the corner of his eye and motioned to Gonsalves to keep playing. He did, for 27 choruses, which was an unheard-of length for a solo at the time. The crowd had never heard anything like it before and were whipped into a joyous frenzy that nearly became a riot. That performance and this album marked an upward turning point in his career. I mostly prefer small group jazz to big bands too, but this album always makes me think of that blonde 🙂

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