By the time The Duke came to Newport in 1956 with his band, his place among music's elite of the day was already assured. It may be that this recording made him a sure-fire member of every Hall of Fame for which he was eligible.
It took well over 40 years for the public at large to hear the actual concert, due to initial reluctance from Columbia to release the recordings made at Newport. However, this fabulous re-issue (including the studio "concert" which was released in '56) has thankfully given us the opportunity to hear the audience's real reaction to the magic that unfolded before their eyes and ears.
The legacy of the concert rightly rests on "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" and Paul Gonsalves' fantastic, lengthy sax solo. But to write this album off as a one trick pony is to miss the point. The ability of soloists and rhythm sections on standards and new songs is astounding. The fact remains that the musicians hold the audience and today's listener in raptures, even before Gonsalves steps up, and this feeling is carried throughout.
Ellington's judgment of the mood of the crowd and choice of song mark him out as a master, and this is an album that no-one should be without.