Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue

Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring Paul Gonsalves

The solo that saved Ellington

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1956 was not a kind year to big bands in general nor to Duke Ellington in particular.

Rapidly escalating costs, shrinking audiences, creative exhaustion and other factors led band after band to fold and give up the bandstand.

Ellington was seriously thinking about retiring,

Then came Paul Gonsalves and his impromptu 27 chorus solo at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival.

The band went on late – very late – and a big chunk of the audience was in the process of leaving the fairgrounds.

Then it started.

On a recording from the event, you can hear the sound of the growing crowd as people returned to the stage area and re-joined the audience. First interest…then enthusiasm…then positive hysteria. 7,000 screaming and dancing people rocking out.

Critics noted, the legend of this singular event spread, and in short time Ellington was on the cover of Time Magazine. Ellington and Big Bands in general thrived anew in the media attention and public enthusiasm.

This is not film from Newport ’56. There is none. There are however TWO recordings of the event. Paul Gonsalves stepped up to the wrong mike (long story.)

One flaw with this video: It ends before the solo does. It’s the only film version of this we could find. If you know of a complete one, please let us know on our Jazz on the Tube Facebook page: Facebook.com/jazzonthetube
 

More great music like this at 30sJazz.com