Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport '56

Overview

It may be that the song most baby boomers identify from July 1956 is a simple twelve-bar blues, hyped on national television by a twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley and his handlers. But it is a very different song, with its elongated fourteen-bar choruses of rhythm and dissonance, played on the night of July 7, 1956, by a fifty-seven-year-old Duke Ellington and his big band that got everybody on their feet and moving as one. More than fifty years later, "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," recorded at the 1956 ...
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Overview

It may be that the song most baby boomers identify from July 1956 is a simple twelve-bar blues, hyped on national television by a twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley and his handlers. But it is a very different song, with its elongated fourteen-bar choruses of rhythm and dissonance, played on the night of July 7, 1956, by a fifty-seven-year-old Duke Ellington and his big band that got everybody on their feet and moving as one. More than fifty years later, "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," recorded at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, still makes a profound statement about postwar America-how we got there and where it all went. Backstory in Blue is a behind-the-scenes look at this epic moment in American cultural history. It is the story of who and what made Ellington's composition so compelling and how one piece of music reflected the feelings and shaped the sensibilities of the postwar generation. As John Fass Morton explains, it was music expressed as much by those who performed offstage as by those who performed on. Written from the point of view of the audience, this unique account draws on interviews with fans and music professionals of all kinds who were there and whose lives were touched, and in some cases changed, by the experience. Included are profiles of George Avakian, who recorded and produced Ellington at Newport 1956; Paul Gonsalves, the tenor sax player responsible for the legendary twenty-seven choruses that enabled the rebirth of Ellington's career; and the "Bedford Blonde," Elaine Anderson, whose dance ignited both the band and the crowd. Duke Ellington once remarked, "I was born at Newport." Here we learn that Newport was much more than the turning point forEllington's career. It was the tipping point for a generation and a musical genre.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813542829
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2008
  • Series: NA
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 969,756
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents


Foreword   Jonathan Yardley     ix
Acknowledgments     xiii
How We Got There
A Phrase with Six Tones-Apart, Yet Integral     3
Ellington's Long Road to Newport: Apparitions within the Music     13
Duke's Instrument: The '56 Band     29
The Tiffany Label: Columbia Records     45
George Avakian: From Hot Collecting to Live Recording     53
Outdoor Live Recording: Columbia Goes to Newport     65
From the Masses to the Classes: Newport and Elaine Lorillard     75
The Most Unlikely Place: Newport to '56     87
Newport '56
Newport '56: A Gathering Primed to Move     101
The Saturday Night: Converging on the Decisive Moment     115
A Leading Voice Supported by Many Parts: Paul Gonsalves     133
The Rhythmic Groove of the Century: The Gonsalves Solo     149
Elaine Anderson: "The Gal Who Launched 7,000 Cheers"     159
Not Just Patterns in the Air: An Audience Performs     173
Where It All Went
As Though You Were There: The LP     201
The Columbia Formula: From Niche to Mainstream     211
Sleeping under a Fur Coat: No Longer the Rich Mrs. Anderson     219
The Brotherhood of the Jam: Onthe Road with Paul and Duke     231
Someone Else's Freedom: The VOA Broadcast     249
Festival Junction: From Newport to Yasgur's Farm     257
Notes     265
Bibliography     285
Index     291
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