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Introducing Newport Jazz Festival 1956

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.

1956 Newport Jazz program

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.