Toots Thielemans was really a man loved by many and an amazing musician and personality. Fortunately, he has left us a large legacy of music reflecting the width of his talent which we can listen to over and over again.
In 1952, Thielemans emigrated to the United States and there he played with, among others, Charlie Parker. It was a short stint and they made no record together. But late in life (1994) Thielemans returned to Parker and recorded Ornithology.
Thielemans made his first recordings in Sweden in 1950 when he played in Stockholm as part of the Benny Goodman Septet. And he came back many times to make more.
In November 1960 Thielemans recorded “That Old Black Magic” with Harry Arnold and his orchestra. It is featured on the album “Harry Arnold Guest Book”.
Some time ago I run across a CD at eBay that looked interesting and was cheap so I bought it.
It is called “Live at Caesars Palace” and presents samples of recordings from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from around 1970. The CD was apparently a promotional release for a series of recordings from Caesars Palace, which never materialized.
It features some of the big names, which appeared at the casino at that time and Duke Ellington is one of them.
Ellington’s contributions to the CD are “Creole Love Call” and “Take The ‘A’ Train”.
Looking for more information I came across a quite thorough review of the CD by Sjef Hoefsmit in the DEMS Bulletin. Among other things he says:
“The recording of Creole Love Call is different from any of the descriptions in the New DESOR. It contains exclusively three choruses of the first theme between the piano intro and the coda. The second theme was not performed. That makes it a rare performance and I believe that this is a genuine recording from Caesar’s Palace and not a recording “borrowed” from somewhere else.”
As regards “Take The ‘A’ Train”, he considers that it was recorded at the same time as “Creole Love Call” but with the structure identical to 146 other recordings of the piece.
Concerning the recording date, Hoefsmit goes the three-weeks engagement at the end of 1970 and the beginning of 1971 since he “hear Money Johnson in Creole Love Call, the bass sounds much more like Joe Benjamin than Victor Gaskin and there is no trace of Johnny Hodges.”
Louis Armstrong was the anchor of the program on the second day of the Festival. As Basie had done the day before, he kicked it off and ended it.
Ella Fitzgerald was the featured singer of the night and Claes Dahlgren was quite enthusiastic in his report on her performance. “Heart, swing, taste – Ella has got it all” was one of his comments. And apparently the audience liked it as well. “She was hardly allowed to leave the stage although Louis Armstrong was the next attraction.”
Buck Clayton and a group including J.J. Johnson and Coleman Hawkins catered to the “main stream” and dixieland jazz audience. Claes Dahlgren wrote that Clayton proved he is a great jazz musician and that Hawkins still is very authoritative in his playing.
The Jay and Kay Quintet was one of the modern jazz groups of the night. They played among other things a piece written particularly for the Festival. Dahlgren considered the group as very stimulating and enjoyed J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding . “They are outstanding soloists and their interplay is exemplary.”
However, the main modern jazz feature was the Dave Brubeck Quartet. When one listens to the performance, it is quite enjoyable and of course in the typical style of the group with its tight contrapuntal interplay between Brubeck and Desmond. Dahlgren did not like the group but admitted it swings more than its critics admit and that Paul Desmond is a very good soloist.
Louis Armstrong ended the night with a very typical Armstrong performance and the audience apparently liked what they heard. Claes Dahlgren gave the key to this. “Seeing and hearing Louis makes one happy”.
Parts of the performances by Armstrong, Brubeck, Clayton and Jay & Kay are available for in the music player of the web site.
This photo of Louis and Elaine Lorillard – the founders of the Newport Jazz Festival – summarizes the first night of the 1956 Festival. It rained and it rained a lot. For a while it looked as if the performances would have to be cancelled but finally Count Basie and his orchestra kicked off the Festival in front on the 5.000 jazz fans who had dared to face the rain.
The program of the first night was based on a formula that George Wein was going to use over and over for the New Jazz Festivals. A little bit of this and a little bit of that to please jazz fans with different interests but also to give them a rather full serving of the current jazz scene.
The Swedish jazz journalist (amongst other things) Claes Dahlgren contributed a long report to the Swedish jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen and the account below builds very much on it.
Count Basie and his orchestra was the anchor of July 5 program and the big band feature. By many accounts it was also the hit of the first day. Its appearance at the end of the night got the crowd excited and Dahlgren liked it a lot. “The band had one of its better nights and this means jazz, jazz, JAZZ”.
Sarah Vaughan was the singer on July 5 and Claes Dahlgren had some nice words to say about her performance and liked her focusing on her jazz repertoire and excelling in her improvisational approach to the songs.
Dixieland and small group swing was represented by an Eddie Condon group including among others Wild Bill Davison and Peanuts Hucko. But it was Bud Freeman who particularly got Dahlgren’s praise. “One often forgets Bud when one talks about how the ‘cool’ style was formed”, he said.
Two small groups represented modern jazz. One was the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, which among other things played a couple of new songs commissioned or requested by George Wein. Dahlgren admitted that he had some problems with Mingus’ kind of music but admitted that Mingus approach was an “honest” one.
The other was Modern Jazz Quartet. For a MJQ fan, it is very pleasurable to listen to the group’s performance and Claes Dahlgren – not being a fan of MJQ – apparently also liked it.
The program of the night was rounded off by two young female pianist, Jutta Hipp – he East German pianist who by that time had moved to the U.S.A and was to record some albums for Blue Note before she ended her career- and the Japanese Toshiko Akiyoshi. Dahlgren had some nice words to say about both of them but felt that they lacked an identity of their own.
Part of the performances by Charles Mingus, Jutta Hipp and MJQ can be listened to in the music player of the website.
Tomorrow, it is 60 years ago since the third edition of the Newport Jazz Festival opened.We will be there!
As the previous ones, it took place in the Freebody Park but in 1956 the physical setup was a little bit different, as George Wein – the producer of the festival – explains here.
An important element of the 1956 festival was an recording agreement with Columbia Records.
In his autobiography, Wein says: ” I had struck an agreement with Irving Townsend, Columbia Records’s A&R man, earlier in the year. It would be good publicity to have some recordings from Newport. Our arrangement seemed like a good deal: for each artist recorded, the record company was to pay us an amount equal to that artist’s performance fee. As it turned out, it was a terrible deal, because the record company got exclusive rights and all of the royalties.”
Another element was that Wein had commissioned or requested new works from some artists and groups like Charles Mingus, J.J. Johnson, Teddy Charles and Duke Ellington.
The festival program was centered around three jazz giants – Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
They were supplemented by an impressive setup of established and upcoming jazz stars and in posts tomorrow and the day after tomorrow there will be snapshots of some of the performances here on the website.