1001 Albums: Ellington at Newport

 

#6

ellingtonatnewport

Artist: Duke Ellington

Album: Ellington at Newport

Year: 1956

Length: 43:53

“We got one more, we got one more”

It happened again, I had to go to Youtube to listen to this one. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly as bad as an experience as the last, they had the full album as one video, which was good despite the stupid, annoying ads that pop up in the middle of a song and scare the crap out of you, especially since it’s jazz and suddenly “DID YOU KNOW THERE’S NO MORE MUSTARD IN THE CARRIBEAN??? NO WAAAYYYY” obnoxiously loud. Either way, minor things, didn’t really take away from the album at all.

Also, I should note, the album is on Spotify, but the full length concert version and not the original five song LP, which I think is the one that is being referenced to on the list. If you want to check out the full length concert (which I might do… one day), then check it on Spotify, but it will definitely not be the same as listening to what it was meant to be as an album.

I’m happy this was a full-on instrumental jazz album because it was exactly what I needed after a sloooooooooow, looooong day at work. I was able to sit back on the metro ride home and just enjoy the music without really focusing to it. That’s what I love about jazz music, it’s nice background music to just relax to. Put it on any old time and it just sets such a calm mood that you can’t help but just feel nice. I think that’s part of the reason I’m in a particularly sedated mood right now, it was this jazz album. The whole time I was listening to it I was lost in my own thoughts, thinking about so many things (for those who don’t know, my mind races a lot, ask Sandra she’ll tell you). I wasn’t focused on intently listening to the music itself, but that was part of the beauty, I wasn’t focused but I still didn’t feel like I missed out on any of it, it was there and I was experiencing it in a more spiritual kind of way…

Dear lord listen to me, good god. I guess that’s the kind of power good jazz can have on you.

Here’s the thing about this album, it’s the first live album on the list (and believe me there are many more to come… I will figure out why), but if I hadn’t known it was a live album, I would have never thought it was. I would have guessed because the songs are separated by crowd noise and cheers and applause, but the actual music itself sounds so crisp and tight and clear that it’s so hard to think it was live and yet, it was, which is truly a testament to how great this jazz orchestra is. Each player plays through the whole thing with such ease and talent, it’s amazing to even think that they hit every cue and note precisely at the right moment. Remember this was a time when jazz as it was known in the 20s and 30s was starting to fall behind a bit to newer types of jazz stylings and rock and or roll, so for Duke to keep it going and keep it going strong was one hell of a feat, especially playing at one of the first jazz festivals in history. You can feel it in the album, it’s as if the band went in going “Ok Boys, this is it, if we end this now, let’s end this with one hell of a show” and they did, very much so. You feel it all throughout. Even if it wasn’t their last show, they came to play and they came to play their hearts and souls out and every second and every note that’s played, that heart and soul is felt.

I read that this was Duke Ellington’s quintessential album, the greatest performance of his career and one of the most important jazz albums ever. Going into it you would think, boy that’s selling it very hard, but listening to it, you can believe it and I believed it. This album single-handedly made me love jazz way more and I was already a fan.

Ok enough of my cheesy ramblings, I’m sure Duke is blushing somewhere from all the flowers I’ms ending him, might as well kiss him and ask him out on a date (probably in reverse order), but what can I say, I was hooked.

-Bosco

Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco

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