(4-LP set) In what was the third year of the NJF (1956), Armstrong was there with his All-Stars along with the cream of the jazz community. It was Columbia Records and producer George Avakian who thought of recording some of the Festival which was showing signs of becoming the prototype that it soon was to become for all festivals. The Voice of America (VOA) was broadcasting the Festival by then and along with Columbia's microphones captured many hours on tape, some of which to be released on LP. However, quite possibly because of a distorted VOA mic combined with the fact that Columbia's microphone was positioned for the band only, the Armstrong portion of this concert lay dormant…until now.
In using the VOA mic while minimizing the distortion on Louis' vocals and combining the clear Columbia microphone capturing of the band, we finally have for the first time Armstrong's appearance at Newport '56. His program selection is exactly what Louis did best…bring the people what they wanted to hear which really was a cross-section of pop and jazz: "Tin Roof Blues" (blues), "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" (New Orleans), "The Gypsy" (pop), "Perdido" (swing), "Mop Mop" (bop), "Ko Ko Mo" (rock). In addition to his current hit with "Mack The Knife" he found the time to feature the All-Stars (Ed Hall, Billy Kyle, Barrett Deems, Trummy Young, Dale Jones and Velma Middleton).
Arguably one of the most revered jazz films was Bert Stern and Aram Avakian's Jazz On A Summer's Day. Shot at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, it is a brilliantly filmed time capsule of music, audience and Newport. Although Armstrong's appearance is one of the longer segments in the movie it is highly edited. Four performances (including Armstrong backed by an 18 piece ensemble - The International Youth Band) had been previously released but the rest, including the filmed segments, are heard here in their entirety for the first time. Peanuts Hucko's fine Goodman-ish clarinet takes over for Hall, Mort Herbert in for Jones on bass and Danny Barcelona replaces Deems at the drums and another outstanding All-Star group had been assembled. However, the encore segment is worth the price of admission.
Special guests Jack Teagarden and Bobby Hackett join the band on stage and memorable performances of "Rockin' Chair", "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" and "Pennies From Heaven" can now be fully enjoyed from this glorious gathering.
The original 3 track tape of this concert was used as a source and the sound is impeccable. Rare photos of the Festival are included with liner notes contributed by the world-renown Armstrong researcher Ricky Riccardi. Restoration engineer Andreas Meyer has brought these important performances back with much clarity to make you feel like you're soaking up the music in a lawn chair while breathing in the air of Narragansett Bay.