Duke Ellington's appearance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival has long been famous, and justifiably so. Paul Gonsalves' 27-chorus tenor solo on "Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue" practically started a riot at Newport and made headlines around the world. The momentum generated by this concert led to Ellington's comeback and never let up during his 18 remaining years. A double CD put out in 1999 presents the entire concert performance, previously unheard material, and a few revelations. After a brief truncated set that was cut short because four of Ellington's musicians could not be found, the Ellington Orchestra returned to the stage three hours later. They played "Take the 'A' Train," "Newport Jazz Festival Suite," a showcase for Harry Carney
on "Sophisticated Lady," and a so-so Jimmy Grissom
vocal outing on "Day In, Day Out." Then came "Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue." The saxophone interlude caused crazed dancing, and soon the crowd was as loud as the band. When the crowd would not quiet down, Ellington saved the day by closing with a long version of "Skin Deep." But unknown to most people is that on July 9, the orchestra went to the studios to reproduce the program. The earlier version of the "Newport Jazz Festival Suite" had been a bit sloppy and Gonsalves' famous tenor solo on "Diminuendo" had actually been played into the wrong microphone. Ellington's band therefore performed the entire "Newport Jazz Festival Suite" again and it was issued (with phony applause, introductions, and crowd noises) on the original LP. Highly recommended.