“One of the greatest live jazz festival recordings” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
Album Tracks, Disc 1:
The Star-Spangled Banner
Father Norman O’Connor Introduces Duke & the Orchestra/ Duke Introduces Tune & Anderson, Jackson, & Procope
Black and Tan Fantasy
Duke Introduces Cook & Tune
Tea for Two
Duke & Band Leave Stage/ Father Norman O’Connor Talks about the Festival
Take the ‘A’ Train
Duke Announces Strayhorn’s A Train & Nance Duke Introduces Festival Suite, Part 1 & Hamilton
Part I – Festival Junction
Duke Announces Soloists; Introduces Part II
Part II – Blues to Be There
Duke Announces Nance & Procope; Introduces Part III
Part III – Newport Up
Duke Announces Hamilton, Gonsalves, & Terry/ Duke Introduces Carney & Tune
Duke Announces Grissom & Tune
Day in, Day Out
Duke Introduces Tune(s) and Paul Gonsalves Interludes
Diminuendo in Blue/ Crescendo in Blue
Album Tracks, Disc 2:
Duke Introduces Johnny Hodges
I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good
Duke Calms Crowd, Introduces Nance & Tune
Tulip or Turnip
Studio Concert [Excerpts]
Father Norman O’Connor Introduces Duke Ellington/ Duke Introduces New Work, Part I, & Hamilton *
Part I – Festival Junction *
Duke Announces Soloists; Introduces Part II *
Part II – Blues to Be There *
Duke Announces Nance & Procope; Introduces Part III *
Part III – Newport Up *
Duke Announces Hamilton, Gonsalves, & Terry/ Pause/ Duke Introduces Johnny Hodges *
I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good *
Jeep’s Blues [studio] *
Pause Track *
* These are the only songs from the original release; see notes.
Black and Tan Fantasy (5/5/28) #15 US
Mood Indigo (2/14/31) #3 US
Sophisticated Lady (5/27/33) #3 US
Take the ‘A’ Train (7/26/41) #11 US
I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good * (10/11/41) #13 US
Skin Deep (3/5/54) #7 UK
* See Notes. Chart information is for original studio releases.
Notes: The original release contained only the songs marked with an asterisk (*). The above track listing reflects the 1999 reissue, Complete At Newport.
“Ellington's original…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” (Eder).
“When Duke Ellington took his orchestra to the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, the band was in need of an uplift, some humongous event that would revitalize its image in the wake of bebop, hard bop, and so many more jazz currents” (Bartlett).
“Trouble…is that the living document of the Newport show is almost fully manufactured, recorded in a studio with crowd madness dubbed in” (Bartlett). “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” (Eder).
“The producers revisited the Newport gig after four decades because they discovered an extant Voice of America tape – the one whose microphone Gonsalves blew his solo into, and the VOA tape catches the whole Newport set in its organic glory” (Bartlett). “The result is the first complete consideration of the actual Newport performance, as well as a complete account of the studio-generated portions of the original release” (Eder). The latter “aren’t as exciting as the live renditions, but are worth hearing” (Bartlett) and “make great siblings, illustrative of the live-event charm and the music industry’s dogged labors in reinventing it on record” (Bartlett).
“The highlight is an extraordinarily vivid account” (Eder) of the merging of “‘Diminuendo in Blue’ with set-closer ‘Crescendo in Blue’ tacked on the end. Tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves got the nod from Ellington to segue from ‘Diminuendo’ to ‘Crescendo,’ and he blew doors. With one rousing 27-chorus solo, Gonsalves blew a fever into the crowd and jump-started Ellingtonia for another generation” (Bartlett).
“Alternately tender with layers of brushstroke orchestration and blazing with the band’s well-seasoned tightness, this new Newport is one for the generalist and the Ellington completist” (Bartlett). “One of the greatest live jazz festival recordings ever has gotten better” (Eder).