Song of the Day: Duke Ellington, “Diminuendo in Blue and Crescendo in Blue”

Duke Ellington is one of the most celebrated names in jazz. So much so that it’s hard to believe that for a time, his career was flagging. A famed 1956 performance with his orchestra at the Newport Jazz Festival revitalized its status, making headlines around the world. Its centerpiece was a reworked version of “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” originally composed by Ellington in 1938. This version has since become jazz folklore, featuring a 27-chorus tenor sax solo by Paul Gonsalves that sent the crowd into a frenzy and almost incited a riot.

The entire performance was released as a live recording titled Ellington at Newport. It was later revealed that the album had been fabricated with studio performances mixed with some live recordings and artificial applause. It didn’t matter; the Duke was back! Soon after, he appeared on the cover of Time and his resurgent popularity lasted throughout the rest of his life.

Like this article?  Get more when you subscribe.


Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz