- Tapa dura: 336 páginas
- Editor: Rutgers University Press (31 de julio de 2008)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0813542820
- ISBN-13: 978-0813542829
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº1.133.798 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros)
Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport '56 (Inglés) Tapa dura – 31 jul 2008
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Reseña del editor
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 for Ellington's career. It was the tipping point for a generation and a musical genre.
Biografía del autor
John Fass Morton began a career in theater, film, and writing in London in 1974 where much of his work involved music. Following a starring role in a West End musical, he appeared in major films, including The Empire Strikes Back.
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even greater appreciation of the Duke and the recording of this concert. The space
in the book given the 'blonde dancer' equals the amount of coverage given the Duke,
but I guess she was as fascinating (or more so) at that time. I read the book and then
listened to one of the newer releases (1999) of a CD of the concert and enjoyed it more than
I ever did before. A great read for Duke fans and Jazz history buffs.
The last few years have seen a spate of books centered around a record album, telling the story about the artists and how the specific album came about and its impact. For example, Ashley Kahn has provided wonderful volumes devoted to "Kind of Blue" and "A Love Supreme." John Fass Morton's new book, "Backstory in Blue: Ellington at Newport 56" is on one level the story of the classic live recording by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, but it goes even deeper into social history to examine not simply how the recording happened, but also discuss the impact of the Festival performance.
The performance at Newport is recognized as helping revive Ellington's prominence in the American music scene and Morton provides a valuable and concise sketch of Ellington's career, including his emergence in New York during the twenties; the prominent part he played in the Swing era; how he was affected by the decline of the big bands and the shift in the direction of popular music; and the recording career including Ellington's aspirations which related to the writing and performance/recording of longer compositions. Yet no longer enjoying the financial success allowing him to maintain the same level of a band, by 1955 Ellington had to accept a six week stint at the Aquacades in Flushing Meadows, the site of the 1939 World's Fair, which also led to him having to replace several band members lacking a local union card.
At this time Ellington was also frustrated with the record companies. While Columbia, which was popularizing the new LP form, enabled Ellington to record extended works including the now highly regarded "Masterpieces" and "Ellington Uptown," they were not commercial successes. And frustrated with the two major labels, Victor and Columbia, he signed with Capital but again met little success. Ellington was an emcee at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival, foreshadowing his performance the next year and by then had resigned with Columbia where he was reunited with George Avakian who had produced "Masterpieces" and had also produced successful recordings by Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong, and was behind the recording of Ellington and others at the 1956 Festival.
Morton weaves together Avakian's biography along with that of the members of the 1956 Ellington Band, the most interesting of which was tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves (of Cape Verdean descent), the birth and early history of the Newport Jazz Festivals and the story of Elaine Anderson, the blonde lady whose dance during Paul Gonsalves' tenor solo was part of the musical magic generated that July 1956 evening. It is fascinating to read how Elaine Lorillard, wife of an heir of a tobacco fortune, helped establish the festival in this most unlikely setting, a high society community. Then she helped sustain the festival against local opposition towards the earliest Newport Festivals. This is where George Wein first started producing festivals, and there were a number of interesting tidbits including the fact that Wein created the Photographer's Pit for the first Newport Jazz Festival, something many working press at festivals take for granted.
We get to the magic evening and the performance of Ellington and others on the bill that night. Ellington's long-extended original work, Newport Jazz Festival Suite, had received lukewarm applause, and recognizing this he launched into Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, with an interval where he would play piano before calling forth Gonsalves who launched into one of the most celebrated tenor saxophone blues solos of all time with the band spurred on as Jo Jones whacked a roll newspaper into his hand. As the audience reaction got more enthusiastic, Elaine Anderson started dancing in the aisle near the stage while Gonsalves kept preaching the blues. Her dance was captured by the photographers in the Photo Pit and were included in coverage of the event as well as on the back cover of "Ellington at Newport 56." At the time her identity was not known, but Morton was able to uncover her story of a one-time Hollywood hopeful starlet who had settled into the somewhat frustrating live of a wife and mother. And while this is going on, we learn how Avakian and others are dealing with the fact Gonsalves is not playing directly into the mike being used to record his performance, but fortunately into a microphone used by Voice of America for foreign broadcast and the recording of which years later would be used in some reissues of the album in the digital age. Morton then discusses the aftermath of that night including the release of the recording, the impact of the album and press coverage of Ellington's performance on the revitalization of his big band, and what happened to the participants subsequently.
There is so much in this rich and varied story for Morton to tell us. Given the rich historical tapestry, there are places one might feel one is bogged down in detail, but not only would one be hard-pressed to find anything extraneous, but at a certain point the story told here takes over and you settle in for the ride. Washington post book critic Jonathan Yardley authored the book's introduction and he notes that "I have been blessed in many ways, probably more than I deserve, with a richly rewarding private life and a small but gratifying public one, but that night in Newport stands alone and apart." It is to Morton's credit that he is able to convey some sense of the magic that made that night so unique and memorable. This book will make those having the album listen to it a new, and for others hopefully lead them to discover that one magical evening in Newport, Rhode Island.