Duke Ellington: Diminuendo in Blue (and Crescendo in Blue)


Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue (1956)


Duke Ellington & His Orchestra


Ellington at Newport 1956: Complete (Columbia/Legacy C2K64932)

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Big band featuring soloists Duke Ellington (piano), Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Cat Anderson (trumpet)


Recorded: Newport, R.I., July 7-8, 1956


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

The Duke Ellington Orchestra’s appearance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival made for one of the most legendary performances in the history of jazz. Paul Gonsalves’s 27-chorus solo on “Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue,” as the festival was about to close, was so explosive that it nearly led to rioting. (Is this why alcohol is banned at the festival today?) Even now, more than 50 years later, the recording raises the hairs on the back of one’s neck. Twenty-seven choruses! And not a thought repeated. Throughout Gonsalves’s solo his fellow musicians and the audience can be heard egging him on with shouts of encouragement. The air was so charged that Ellington had to take the orchestra through a few quieter numbers to calm things down. The CD labels the track that follows “Announcements, Pandemonium.” After sitting – no, dancing – through Gonsalves’s firestorm, pandemonium was to be expected.

Reviewer: Steve Greenlee

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