Well, undertaking to listen to 1,001 albums starting in the fifties meant that I was going to have to deal with jazz at some point. Never got it to be honest. Yeah, it’s the sound of the first half of the twentieth century making its way from music hall to Metallica, yes it’s the basis of blues, rock, R&B, soul, everything. But to me it sounds like hotel lobbies, Fast Show sketches and musical masturbation.
In fact, the first time I listened to this, I listened to the 1999 “Complete” Duke Ellington at Newport, a double CD worth of big band music that, while hardly bad, wasn’t for me. It was only then I frustratedly realised I was listening to a full-on extended bloat of an album, not the iconic original. Flip to the ’56 original, and what you’ve got is a nice concise album of a man back in the spotlight, thirty years in the business, playing imaginative, astonishing trumpet jazz. And even a miserable jazz cynic like me couldn’t help enjoying the bluesy “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue”, featuring a great big behemoth of a sax solo that stands out against the best of any genre.
Oh, and apparently the “Live at Newport” thing was a bit of a loose title. They all went into a studio the Monday morning after to re-record it all because the original recording was knackered. Even the applause was stuck on afterwards.