Newport Jazz Festival  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Newport Jazz Festival is a music festival held every August in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was established in 1954 by the jazz impresario George Wein, prompted by socialite Elaine Lorillard, whose wealthy husband helped finance the festival's startup.

The Newport Jazz Festival moved to New York City in 1972 and became a two site festival in 1981 when it returned to Newport and also continued in New York. The festival has been known as the JVC Jazz Festival since 1986.

The festival was originally held at the Bellevue Avenue estate of Louis and Elaine Lorillard, Belcourt, now called Belcourt Castle and owned by the Tinney Family.

Most of the early festivals were broadcast on Voice Of America radio and many performances were recorded and have been issued by various record labels.

Notable performances and recordings

Two of the most famous performances in the festival's history include Miles Davis's 1955 solo on "'Round Midnight" and the Duke Ellington Orchestra's lengthy 1956 performance of "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue". Miles & Monk at Newport documented respective 1958 and 1963 appearances at the festival. Noteworthy soloists aside from the bandleaders were John Coltrane and Pee Wee Russell. Eventually, Columbia Records released an album displaying more of the Miles Davis Sextet's 1958 set on an album called Miles & Coltrane.

A reconstructed Ellington at Newport from his 1956 performance was re-issued in 1999. Aside from the actual festival performance of "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," including the distant-sounding Paul Gonsalves saxophone solo, the original album used re-creations, note for note, of some of the set's highlights which were secretly re-recorded in the studio against Ellington's objection. The new set restored the original festival performance after a recording from the Voice of America (which broadcast the performance) was discovered and, among other things, the odd timbre of the Gonsalves performance. Gonsalves, it turned out, stepped up to the wrong microphone to play his legendary solo: he stepped up to the VOA microphone and not the band's. Gonsalves' performance originally caused a near riot in the festival crowd.

The film Jazz on a Summer's Day documented the 1958 festival. The 1958 performances of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae were released on the 1958 album Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport.

A Muddy Waters performance at the 1960 festival (released as the album At Newport 1960) is widely regarded as his best recorded work.

That year, boisterous fans carried away with the music created a major disturbance, and the National Guard was called to the scene.Template:Fact Word that the disturbances had meant the end of the festival, following the Sunday afternoon blues presentation headlined by Muddy Waters, reached poet Langston Hughes, who was in a meeting on the festival grounds. Hughes wrote an impromptu lyric, "Goodbye Newport Blues," that he brought to the Waters band onstage, announcing their likewise impromptu musical performance of the piece himself, before Waters pianist Otis Spann led the band and sang the Hughes poem.

The Nina Simone album At Newport (1960) was recorded live on the festival in the same year.

Despite the difficulties of 1960, the festival resumed in Newport in 1961 from June 30th through July 3rd. Featured performers included Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and Dave Brubeck who, to the delight of a very damp audience, played "Pennies from Heaven" during a rain shower.

A riot at the 1971 festival caused it to leave Newport until 1981.

The 1973 festival, held at Carnegie Hall was documented on the album Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall

Other performers who have had albums recorded during their Newport performances over the years include Count Basie, Brubeck, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and Herbie Mann.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Newport Jazz Festival" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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