The Jazz Repertory Company presents The Newport Jazz Festival: The 1950s

LONDON Cadogan Hall
5 Sloane Terrace


The music of Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Dizzy Gillespie and more in this celebration of 60 years of Newport.

The concert will feature Pete Long's Echoes of Ellington Orchestra recreating Duke's legendary Ellington 1956 appearance (described by George Wein, Newport's founder as ‘the greatest performance of Ellington’s career; it stood for everything that jazz had been and could be’). This was the year Ellington's sax star Paul Gonsalves cut loose on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue and in 27 choruses drove the crowd into a wild frenzy.

We'll also be performing music from the 1959 movie Jazz On A Summer's Day (Anita O'Day, Sonny Stitt, George Shearing and Louis Armstrong) plus selections from the Newport set 1956 movie High Society (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I Love You Samantha) - not strictly jazz but joyous music worthy of inclusion in this tribute night.

Pete Long’s Echoes of Ellington
Georgina Jackson as Anita O’Day
Iain Mackenzie as Frank Sinatra
Thomas “Spats” Langham as Bing Crosby
Enrico Tomasso as Louis Armstrong

The Jazz Repertory Company’s founder Richard Pite discusses putting the show together in such a way that you might be coaxed from the comfort of your sofa to venture forth into the cold November night to join him and the 18 other musicians at Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall

When putting together a themed show it’s always good to start with an anniversary and this year it’s the 60th year of George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival.  George, now in his 90’s, is still very much a part of the festival and over the years his inclusion of every conceivable genre of jazz has made it one of the great festivals of any kind in the world.
We decided to stick with the 50’s as this gave us the opportunity of building the show around Duke Ellington’s memorable 1956 appearance – the one where the crowd went nuts whilst Paul Gonsalves played 27 choruses of tenor sax in Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.  Ellington’s career was in the doldrums in the mid- fifties but this performance changed everything and restored his band to its former glory.

For the last twenty years Pete Long’s Echoes of Ellington has been recreating the glories of Duke’s repertoire with stunning brilliance and he’ll be directing the band through highlights of the ‘56 set.  Rather conveniently Pete is also musical director of Gillespiana, his big band tribute to Dizzy Gillespie’s ground breaking band of the 40’s.  In 1957 Dizzy appeared at Newport and Pete will be performing Manteca and Cool Breeze from that year’s set.

Now, it would be marvellous if the music of Duke and Dizzy could guarantee a full house but in 2014 that’s far from the case – as Pete has discovered.  So we’ve added some music from the wonderful 1959 movie Jazz On A Summer's Day   which featured the music from the previous year’s Newport Festival and such stars as Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Anita O’Day, Dinah Washington and Sonny Stitt. 

Finally, we’ve added some nuggets from the glorious Cole Porter score of High Society, the 1956 movie which featured Louis Armstrong, along with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly.  Bing plays C.K. Dexter-Haven the fictitious director of the Newport Jazz Festival (no doubt based on George Wein but much richer!) and Louis and his band are in town to play.  Well it results in not a great deal of jazz but the music’s delightful and we’re hoping that if the combined glories of Duke and Dizzy aren’t quite the thing to get you to Sloane Square then the  joie de vivre of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire may convince you to hop on the bus and join us.