Live Recordings from the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival
November 17, 2009 8:57 AM   Subscribe

27 live recordings from the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival can be streamed for free at Wolfgang's Vault. Here's a few of the musicians you can listen to: Count Basie & His Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Oscar Peterson Trio and Thelonious Monk. Registration is required but it's oh so worth it. The New York Times has the backstory of how these recordings ended up at Wolfgang's Vault.
posted by Kattullus (11 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
After a hot warm-up session with the Eddie Condon All-Stars my gin began to stay down and I was rapidly getting into that drunken state we all so desired. By the time Duke Ellington came on, we were dancing in the aisles and on our wooden chairs. We danced so hard our feet crashed through the slats. There seemed to be two kinds of people at the festival that year; those who got drunk and danced wildly, like us, and those who sat and smoked pipes filled with tobacco and listened to the music. Turning around to face us, one of the pipe smokers said, "Where's your couth?" Dancing up a storm we screamed back, "We left it at home!" - Spalding Gray, Sex and Death to the Age 14

And that's where the problems started...
posted by Joe Beese at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

And if you enjoyed those and wanted more then you could do a whole lot worse than track down a copy of the film Jazz on a summer's day, a documentary of the 1958 NJF, and one of the best music documentaries ever made on any style.

But if it's a really legendary NJF performance then you can't get better than Duke Ellington at the 1956 NJF. Ellington was then at the nadir of his popularity, something this performance (and especially that of tenor sax Paul Gonsalves) turned around. Half way through the recording you can hear the roar as the crowd leap to their feet. The result was the , possibly apocraphyl, moment when the organisers told Ellington to stop the music or there would be a riot, to which he replied "If I stop the music, then there'll be a riot". Awesome live recording.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:34 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I second ciderwoman's recommendation of both film and recording. Gonsalves's performance is one of those legends that lives up to the legend.
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2009

Music Blog entry about Duke Ellington at the 1956 NJF. Get 'em while they're hot!
posted by hippybear at 11:13 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

hippybear: Get 'em while they're hot!

I didn't want to mention it in the post but there's a chance that Wolfgang's Vault, which are a thoroughly aboveboard company, might have record companies come after them for putting the concerts online.

Incidentally, the Wolfgang of Wolfgang's vault is The Fillmore's Bill Graham, whose birthname was Wolodia Grajonca but was nicknamed Wolfgang.
posted by Kattullus at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2009

I didn't want to mention it in the post but there's a chance that Wolfgang's Vault, which are a thoroughly aboveboard company, might have record companies come after them for putting the concerts online.

The end of the New York Times write-up came to the same conclusion, ending on a warning note: "Enjoy it while you can." The thought is that only record companies were interested in making top-notch recordings with proper-big recording equipment, so it's a decent assumption that the recordings belong to the record companies. Bill Graham, the original owner of the tapes that were converted for Wolfgang's Vault, said he wasn't interested in archiving the shows when they were happening, and that those tapes are copies made for him.

Given this worry, I wouldn't be surprised if more people didn't buy the higher quality recordings than would have initially, due to the fear that they won't be able to get them in the future. (And then, I'd like to imagine that a well-meaning individual would share those high quality recordings with others who lurk around the shadowed corners of the internet, trading in illicit materials.)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:54 PM on November 17, 2009

hippybear, that's a great blog, I've been looking for Roy Harper material for ages and the news that he's back in the studio is gravy.
posted by tellurian at 2:54 PM on November 17, 2009

Registration is required but it's oh so worth it.

I would just like to expound a bit on this, because I think some people might disregard it out of habit, or perhaps think the "Vault" only features Jazz music. Which would be a terrible loss.

Wolfgang's Vault is pretty-much the greatest repository for live concert recordings available on the internet.

To whit, here's a small listing of previous live bootlegs available on Wolfgang's Vault (taken from their recent email newsletter):
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers at Music Hall on 06.08.1978
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan at Austin Opera House on 04.15.1984
  • Thin Lizzy at Tower Theater on 10.20.1977
  • Bruce Springsteen at Max's Kansas City on 01.31.1973
  • The Average White Band at Spectrum on 08.17.1976
  • Electric Light Orchestra at Winterland on 02.14.1976
  • Miles Davis at Tanglewood on 08.18.1970
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer at Wheeling Civic Center on 11.12.1977
  • Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter & James Cotton at Palladium on 03.04.1977
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at Fillmore East on 06.06.1970
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company at Fillmore Auditorium on 06.16.1968
  • Dolly Parton at Bottom Line on 05.14.1977
  • Rod Stewart and the Faces at Anaheim Arena on 10.17.1973
  • Queen at Maida Vale Studio on 10.28.1977
  • Roxy Music at City Hall on 10.28.1974
  • The Clash at Agora Ballroom on 02.13.1979
  • The Who at Spectrum on 12.04.1973
  • Black Sabbath at Convention Hall on 08.05.1975
  • Rush at Maple Leaf Gardens on 09.21.1984
  • The Pretenders at Palladium on 05.03.1980
  • Weird Al Yankovic at Trafalmadore on 03.10.1984
  • Fleetwood Mac at Record Plant Los Angeles on 09.19.1974
  • Yes at Wembley Arena on 10.28.1978
  • Delaney & Bonnie at Fillmore West on 02.22.1970
  • Bob Dylan & The Band at Los Angeles Forum on 02.14.1974
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2009

They sell sweet posters and other rock n' roll artifacts from Bill Graham's repository. Just last week I bought this great big one to freak out the folks in my office!
posted by squalor at 6:11 PM on November 17, 2009

I wish Miles were in this group. Or Mingus. But hell, this is still golden.
posted by Ber at 6:19 PM on November 17, 2009

And though it has been posted here before, here's a video of Anita O'Day swinging through "Sweet Georgia Brown" at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Sweet hat, kitty cat. clicky
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:02 AM on November 18, 2009

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