Reissue with latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. One of the first albums to ever issue recordings made at the Newport Jazz Festival – quite a big hit, and the beginning of a real trend in jazz! The set's also some great work by Duke – free to perform in a setting that's not bound by some of the time restrictions of earlier years, which lets him offer up three long tracks with a great deal of sophistication over previous recordings. Due to bad mike placement on stage, the original "live" album was actually a studio re-creation; the actual live performance was never issued-until now. This 2-CD set contains the complete original album and the hour-plus concert. More than 100 minutes of new music, and the whole thing's in stereo for the first time!
One of the greatest live jazz festival recordings ever has gotten better, and more interesting as well, with this 1999 reissue, a result of the kind of effort that most record companies normally won't even discuss. Ellington's original 1956 Newport album was his best-selling long-player ever, and re-established him, after a two-year drought in the wake of his unsuccessful stay at Capitol, as a vitally popular jazz artist, perceived as worth courting by the major labels. But that record was, in keeping with Columbia's standard operating proceedure of the day, a cut-and-paste job made up of studio re-recordings of the festival's repertory.
This two-DVD set includes several rare films featuring Duke Ellington in several different settings. Disc one documents his first appearance in the French Riviera at the Côte d'Azur in July 1966, with the pianist making intermittent commentary via voice-over between some selections. While the leader is stuck with an obviously substandard piano (with a horrid muddy bass range) and an outdoor setup that is not conducive to getting ideal sound, Ellington, being an old pro, does his best to make do with the conditions.
Reissue with the latest 2015 remastering. Comes with liner notes. Nicely sharp sounds from the great JJ Johnson – a set that has the trombonist really honing his edge on a host of tight, short tracks – with a vibe that almost recalls his initial bop recordings on Blue Note and Prestige! The style here is a bit more sophisticated – definitely with an ear towards the modern directions that JJ was exploring in the 50s – but the sound is also nicely spontaneous, with more focus on improvisation between group members than larger arrangements – quite nice, given that the group features excellent tenor from Bobby Jaspar on tenor – and either Tommy Flanagan or Hank Jones on piano, Percy Heath or Wilbur Little on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Tracks are short, and titles include "Overdrive", "Cube Steak", "Chasin The Bird", and "Solar".
Just the fact that Ellington's extended masterpiece "Reminiscing in Tempo" is included here in its original and continuous form is reason enough to pick up this compilation. Initially recorded in 1935, "Reminiscing" was the first thoroughly composed jazz piece and one that not only demonstrated Ellington's knack for longer forms, but also featured practically all of his singular soloists. Upon its first release, the 13-minute piece was broken up over a few 78s, later making its way into EP form. Currently, the Classics label includes it on one of its Chronological discs, but spread over four distinct tracks. So, this 1991 Columbia release might be the only way to get this great work in its seamless form as it was originally recorded. Collector's concerns aside, this CD was the audio companion to an Ellington documentary aired on PBS. Predictably, it provides something of an overview of Ellington's career, beginning with a recording of "The Mooche" from his Cotton Club days in the late '20s up through a version of "Black Beauty" from 1960.