On July 7, 1956, when Duke Ellington took the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival, his career had been ebbing for approximately 10 years. No fault of his own, but various factors- the birth of Bebop in the mid-'40s, the recording industry's shift to signing solo acts, the overwhelming costs of maintaining touring big bands- made him a seeming has-been. After a 3-year affiliation with Capitol Records ended in 1955, Ellington found himself without a recording deal.
The evening began inauspiciously. Some of Ellington's band members showed up late. The earlier numbers in his set were met with tepid, if pleasant, applause. As Ellington announced the next numbers, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue and the soloist, tenor man Paul Gonsalves, there was no indication that something very special would happen within the next 10 minutes. The band made its way through the Diminuendo section in about 4 minutes when Gonsalves approached the mic and IT happened. I'll throw it over to Wikipedia for a paragraph here:
...In what has since become jazz folklore, Gonsalves almost created a riot as he played a tenor sax solo for 27 choruses that stirred up the normally staid crowd into a frenzy. A striking platinum blonde woman in a black evening dress, named Elaine Anderson, jumped from her box seat and started dancing. This helped serve as a catalyst for the crowd frenzy that grew as Gonsalves continued his forceful, energetic solo...
A "frenzy" Take a gander at the link to Amazon below. Find the track listings:
14. Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue [Live]
15. Announcements, Pandemonium [Live]
Pandemonium ain't the title of any song performed. It's what occurred.
The day that started off at maybe the lowest point in Duke Ellington's career ended rather differently, his career revived by a legendary performance by Paul Gonsalves.