Friday, February 19, 2010

Jazz on a Summer's Day

I took an exquisite 84 minutes out of the weekend to immerse myself in Jazz on a Summer Day.

What a treat. It is not a music video, nor is it exactly a documentary of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Instead, it is a mixture of Americana, people watching, music and Newport itself. In fact, a lot of the scenery - aside from the town of Newport - is of regattas. I felt as though I were wisked back to 1958 (I was 9 at the time of the festival). So, the good news is you go on a trip down memory lane. The bad news is the camera isn't always on the performers.

Headliners: Jimmy Giuffre, Thelonious Monk, Henry Grimes, Sonny Stitt, Sal Salvador, Anita O'Day, George Shearing, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Big Maybelle Chuck Berry, Chico Hamilton, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Mahalia Jackson.

Supporting musicians: David Baily, Bob Brookmeyer, Buck Clayton, Bill Crow, Eric Dolphy, Eli's Chosen Six (short segment), Art Farmer, Harold Gaylon, Nathan Gershman, Terry Gibbs, Urbie Green, Jim Hall, Peanuts Hucko, Jo Jones, Ray Mosca, Armando Peraza, Max Roach, Rudy Rutherford.

Set List (my favorites are marked with a star):

Train And The River (The Jimmy Guiffre Trio)

Blue Monk (Thelonious Monk)

Loose Walk (Sonny Stitt)

* Sweet Georgia Brown & Tea For Two (Anita O'Day) Sweet Georgia Brown was in a strange tempo, but when Tea for Two got underway a real highlight - aside from Anita's great singing and good looks - was when she traded phrases with the drummer. I don't recall any shots of the drummer, unfortunately, so that would have been a disappointment except the camera cut to some cuties in the audience. Of course, those cuties are now in their 70s and 80s or dead.

* All Of Me (Dinah Washington) This was the highlight for me. Dinah, at one point, picked up a pair of mallets and did a duet with the vibe player (with a smiling Max Roach looking on). Max was in great form and Dinah did a remarkable job on the vibes! Oh, and this rendition is probably her finest. If you've ever listened to a Dinah Washington compilation album with All of Me on it, this may be the cut you heard.

Catch As Catch Can (Gerry Mulligan) Great 50s style jazz.

I Ain't Mad At You (Big Maybelle) Blues epitomized!

* Sweet Little Sixteen (Chuck Berry)Until I watched this video this was my favorite clip. I discovered it on YouTube and it's the first post in Post Your Favorite YouTube Videos thread. Jo Jones on drums. Chuck doing his skip-walk across the stage while Jack Teagarten is looking on not knowing what to think, and the unidentified clarinet player getting into it.

Blue Sands (Chico Hamilton Quintet) On the fence about this one. Chico is a great and innovative drummer who did some amazing mallet work (now I know why he used concert toms). The piece, though, was a cross between Carribean and New Age. It definitely grew on me.

Up A Lazy River, Tiger Rag, Rockin' Chair, When The Saints (Louis Armstrong) The drummer, Danny Bercelona, was a chops monster with great taste. The duet with Jack Teagarten and Louis was great.

Walk Over God's Heaven / Didn't It Rain, The Lord's Prayer (Mahalia Jackson) What can I say? - there never was nor will there ever be again a Mahalia. What a grand finale.

The DVD was worth every penny and I'll be watching it again soon. There is too much on too many levels to take in during a single viewing.

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