Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue (Podcast #17-002)

 
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“Nineteen fifty-six was an important year. The performance of Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue (originally written in 1937) at the Newport Jazz Festival, with an epic ride by Paul Gonsalves on tenor saxophone, brought us renewed attention and the cover of Time magazine. It was another of those major intersections in my career…

Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Woode, and Sam Woodyard lifted that stone-cold audience up to a fiery, frenzied, screeching, dancing climax that was never to be forgotten. One lovely society matron broke through her veneer of discretion, and jumped her thing for all twenty-seven choruses, adding a cherry and whipped cream topping to our sundae morning.” – Duke Ellington, Music Is My Mistress

Transcription of Ray Nance’s trumpet solo on this version of Take the “A” Train by Jeff Helgesen



Diminuendo – Instruction in music notation meaning to get softer

Crescendo – Instruction in music notation meaning to get louder



Paul Gonsalves in action at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival:

5_-GONSALVES-NEWPORT-19561



The first page of the score for “Diminuendo in Blue” in Ellington’s own hand:

dim1



An excellent analysis of these two pieces can by found on Ethan Iverson’s blog “Do the Math,” written by guest writer Darcy James Argue

For example, he provides a form breakdown of “Diminuendo:”

[A] CHORUS 1: Blues in Eb (12 bars)

[B] CHORUS 2: Blues in Eb (10 bars)

[C] FALSE START+INTERLUDE: FALSE START (Eb) begins same as CHORUS 2 (4 bars) then INTERLUDE on VII pedal (2 bars)

[D] CHORUS 3: Blues in G (12 bars)

[E] CHORUS 4: Blues in G (12 bars)

[F] CHORUS 5: Blues in C (12 bars)

[G] CHORUS 6: Blues in F minor (12 bars)

[H] CHORUS 7: Blues in Db (12 bars)

[I] CHORUS 8: Blues in Db (12 bars)

[J] CHORUS 9: Blues in Db (12 bars)

[K] CHORUS 10: Blues in Db (12 bars)

[L] “STAGE FADE” CODA: Db7#9 vamp (6 bars)



The near riot at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival resulted in Duke Ellington landing on the cover of Time Magazine:

1101560820_400



Backstory In Blue, Ellington at Newport ’56, by John Fass Morton (Rutgers University Press)

backstory in blue



A 1958 performance of Diminuendo In Blue and Crescendo In Blue from a Netherlands concert:



More from the same concert can be found on the DVD, Duke Ellington Live in ’58 from Jazz Icons 2.119001

jazz icons dvd



Eventually, Crescendo In Blue was dropped and replaced with Blow by Blow:



The recordings heard on this podcast episode:



EllingtonAtNewport

Take the “A” Train (CD: “Ellington at Newport 1956 (Complete)” Columbia Legacy C2K 64932)

Recorded 07 July, 1956 Live at The Newport Jazz Festival Newport, RI

Cat Anderson, Clark Terry, Willie Cook – trumpet; Ray Nance – cornet; Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders – trombone; Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Jimmy Woode – bass; Sam Woodyard – drums.




elling_duke_complete1_101b

Diminuendo In Blue/Crescendo In Blue (CD: “The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia, Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra,” Mosaic Records #248)

Recorded 20 September 1937, New York City

Arthur Whetsel, Cootie Williams, Freddie Jenkins – trumpets; Rex Stewart – cornet , Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol – trombones; Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwicke, Barney Bigard, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Billy Taylor – bass; Sonny Greer – drums.

Diminuendo In Blue/Crescendo In Blue can also be found on The Essential Duke Ellington (Columbia Legacy)

ess ellington



ellington hollywd bowl

Diminuendo In Blue / Transbluecency / Crescendo In Blue (LP: “The Hollywood Bowl Concert” Unique Jazz UJ-001)

Recorded 31 August 1947 Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles

Shelton Hemphill, Dud Bascomb, Francis Williams, Harold Baker – trumpets; Ray Nance – trumpet, violin; Lawrence Brown, Claude Jones, Tyree Glenn – trombones; Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Al Sears, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Fred Guy – guitar; Oscar Pettiford – bass; Sonny Greer – drums; Kay Davis – vocal.


EllingtonAtNewport

Diminuendo In Blue and Crescendo In Blue (CD: “Ellington at Newport 1956 (Complete)” Columbia Legacy C2K 64932)

Recorded 07 July, 1956 Live at The Newport Jazz Festival Newport, RI

Cat Anderson, Clark Terry, Willie Cook – trumpet; Ray Nance – cornet; Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders – trombone; Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney – reeds; Duke Ellington – piano; Jimmy Woode – bass; Sam Woodyard – drums.



David Murray Big Band

Paul Gonsalves (CD: “David Murray Big Band, Conducted by Lawrence “Butch” Morris” Disk Union DIW 851)

Recorded 05 March, 1991 in New York City

Hugh Ragin, Rasul Saddik, Graham Haynes, James Zollar – trumpets; Craig Harris, Frank Lacy – trombones; Vincent Chancey – french horn; James Spaulding, John Purcell, Patience Higgins, Don Byron, David Murray – saxes; Sonelius Smith – piano, Fred Hopkins – bass, Tani Tabbal – drums, Joel



0000120517

It’s Something You Ought To Know (Paul Gonsalves – “Ellingtonia Moods and Blues,” RCA Victor / RCA63562)

Recorded 29 February 1960, New York City

Paul Gonsalves- tenor sax; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Ray Nance – cornet; Mitchell “Booty” Wood – trombone; Jimmy Jones – piano; Al Hall – bass; Oliver Jackson – drums.



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