The Newport Jazz Festival is a music festival held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was established in 1954 by socialite Elaine Lorillard, who, together with husband Louis Lorillard, financed the festival for many years. The couple hired jazz impresario George Wein to organize the event to help them bring jazz to the resort town. Most of the early festivals were broadcast on Voice Of America radio and many performances were recorded and have been issued by various record labels.The Newport Jazz Festival moved to New York City in 1972 and became a two-site festival in 1981 when it returned to Newport and also continued in New York. The festival was known as the JVC Jazz Festival from 1984 to 2008. During the economic downturn of 2009, JVC ceased its support of the festival and was replaced by CareFusion. As of 2012 the festival is sponsored by Natixis Global Asset Management. The festival is hosted in Newport at Fort Adams State Park, and is often held in the same month as its sister festival, the Newport Folk Festival.
In 1960 boisterous spectators created a major disturbance, and the National Guard was called to the scene. Word that the disturbances had meant the end of the festival, following the Sunday afternoon blues presentation headlined by Muddy Waters, reached poet Langston Hughes, who was in a meeting on the festival grounds. Hughes wrote an impromptu lyric, “Goodbye Newport Blues”, that he brought to the Muddy Waters band onstage, announcing their likewise impromptu musical performance of the piece himself, before pianist Otis Spann led the band and sang the Hughes poem.The 1960 event was notable also for the presence of a rival jazz festival that took place at the Cliff Walk Manor Hotel, just a few blocks away. This was organized by musicians Charles Mingus and Max Roach in protest against the lower pay that the Newport festival offered jazz innovators in comparison with more mainstream performers; the fact that the innovators were mostly black and the mainstream performers mostly white was also an aggravating factor.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, featuring Nat Adderley
The Louis Armstrong All-Stars with Trummy Young and Barney Bigard
I’m not one to interpret my own songs, but if you can’t figure out ‘What I Say’, then something’s wrong. Either that, or you’re not accustomed to the sweet sounds of love.
The feel comes from gospel but the resulting witty, elegant essay on rhythm and sex and why they’re inseparable is purely pagan.
~Dave Marsh (The Heart of Rock & Soul)
February 18, 1959
Soul, blues, gospel, rock and roll
“What’d I Say” (or “What I Say“) is a song by American rhythm and blues (R&B) musician Ray Charles, released in 1959 as a single divided into two parts. It was improvised one evening late in 1958 when Charles, his orchestra, and backup singers had played their entire set list at a show and still had time left; the response from many audiences was so enthusiastic that Charles announced to his producer that he was going to record it.
After his run of R&B hits, this song finally broke Charles into mainstream pop music and itself sparked a new sub-genre of R&B titled soul, finally putting together all the elements that Charles had been creating since he recorded “I Got a Woman” in 1954. The gospel influences combined with the sexual innuendo in the song made it not only widely popular but very controversial to both white and black audiences. It earned Ray Charles his first gold record and has been one of the most influential songs in R&B and rock and roll history. For the rest of his career, Charles closed every concert with the song. It was added to the National Recording Registry in 2002 and ranked at number 10 in Rolling Stone‘s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
“Ray would call and say that he had a few songs but he wouldn’t usually comment on them beforehand. He called me up before he brought “What’d I Say” in and said, “I think you might like this one pretty well.” That constituted a rave from him and it was very easy to record. It was hardly a song: it was an extended rhythm lick with a few jingle-like verses: “See that girl with the red dress on, She can do the Birdland all night long”, not exactly Shakespearian innovation. He had strung a few lines together but the essence of that record was the boiling rhythm track and the exchanges between himself and the Raelets.” – Jerry Wexler (Co-owner of Atlantic Records & legendary producer)