Album #3-Live: at Newport
I was a trumpet player for 8 years, an alto saxophone player for 4, and a piano player before that. Now, I’m not going to pretend that makes me a jazz expert, but It does give me a true appreciation for the magnitude of the skill and sheer talent that goes into a recording such as this. Frankly, some of those notes the trumpeters hit make my lips hurt to think about it. To put it simply, the Duke found the best of the best musicians for this album. I don’t really know what else to say. Everything was just as you would expect it to be-challenging songs, a tight band, and a clean, expressive performance. I’ve listened to some jazz artists who try too hard to impress, with lots of complicated runs and riffs, high, deafening notes, and squeals that make you just want to cover your ears and run away, who aren’t fun to listen to. their Duke never makes this mistake, his music has a great balance of being impressive, but still enjoyable for even a casual listener.
Each song is upbeat and fun to listen to, or perhaps dance to. I think its happy music. Most of them one already knows–Sophisticated Lady and Mood Indigo are still universally recognized classics today. The only downside to this record is that some of the songs aren’t actually live performances…it seems like disc 2 are “faked” in a studio. Thats ok though, I don’t really care. Finally, a spoken introduction is interjected between each song. Thats slightly irritating, but overall not that big of a deal, as they are usually pretty short and easily ignored.
Is there any downside to a record like this? probably not. That is why classic albums are so hard to review critically. They’ve already established themselves as being the best of the best, and 99.9% of the time they don’t fail to live up to your highest expectations. Duke at Newport is one of those albums. If you love Jazz music (or even if you’re not sure if you like Jazz, but are interested in giving it a try) this record certainly belongs in your collection.