Thursday, July 9, 2009

Duke Ellington

Ellington NJF "At Newport" is of course a live album by jazz giant Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) and his band, recording their historic performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. This record was in my dad’s collection, who even saw a live concert of Duke’s – at his college senior prom! That was in the ‘40’s. Many of the era's big bands had folded by the mid-1950s, but Duke kept this smalller group working, doing small venue shows in ice-skating rinks, etc. IN the mid '50's, the Newport Jazz Festival and others like it were a fairly new phenonmemnon, as Mr. Wiki tells us. The first few songs on this live record were played without some of the band's members - since they were unable to be found at the start of the show. Things then got started with with "Take the 'A' Train", and then by a new song arranged by Billy Strayhorn (whom my dad considered a musical genious), called "Festival Junction" and then on to "Blues to Be There" and the final movement was named "Newport Up." When I saw the Rolling Stones in 1983, the recorded song that was playing on the PA as they took the stage was Duke’s Take the A Train, which led into Under my Thumb.

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