John Dankworth Orchestra: Live at Newport 1959 | CD review


British jazz bands hardly ever played in the US in the 1950s, and certainly not at that world-famous showcase, the Newport festival. But the late John Dankworth's orchestra was making big enough waves by the end of that decade to get invited over, and this is the band's tight and hard-swinging set from 3 July 1959, prefaced by Voice of America's Willis Conover announcing its arrival as if delivering a sermon from a pulpit. The liner notes indicate that the band was nervous, and the solos do often sound hesitant and fragmentary compared to the quality of the improvising on the studio soundtrack (to the Joseph Losey movie The Criminal) that also features on the set. But the overriding impression is of just how good Dankworth's ensemble writing was – a mix of hard-slammed big band riffing and richly layered Ellingtonesque colouration that nourishes a constant sense of anticipation. The band rapidly works up some heat on the bluesy Firth of Fourths; Don't Get Around Much Anymore represents Dankworth's harmonic sense at its most acute; and by Doggin' Around and Take the A Train the band is exuberantly at ease. A UK jazz milestone.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Jacqui Dankworth: It Happens Quietly – review
This ethereal, affecting collection is as much the late John Dankworth's album as it is his vocalist daughter's, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

25, Aug, 2011 @9:01 PM

John Dankworth Orchestra: Britain's Ambassador of Jazz | CD review
Johnny Dankworth's performance at the 1959 Newport jazz festival still sounds fresh and vibrant today, says Dave Gelly

Dave Gelly

01, May, 2010 @11:05 PM

Article image
CD: John Dankworth, JD5


John Fordham

23, Jan, 2004 @3:06 AM

Article image
Sir John Dankworth obituary

Celebrated figure of British jazz with a 60-year career as a performer, composer, bandleader and educationist

John Fordham

07, Feb, 2010 @1:41 PM

John Dankworth/Cleo Laine, Theatre Royal, York

Theatre Royal, York

James Griffiths

21, Jun, 2005 @1:10 PM

Woody Herman Orchestra: Reunion at Newport | CD review
One of the swing era's greatest outfits, this 1978 album has highlights, but will appeal mainly to big-band buffs, says John Fordham

John Fordham

08, Jul, 2010 @9:45 PM

Sir John Dankworth: A life in pictures

A look back at the life of Sir John Dankworth, the jazz saxophonist and composer who died this weekend

08, Feb, 2010 @3:59 PM

In praise of… Sir John and Lady Dankworth
Editorial: The couple's tale represents the journey of jazz from the musical margins to the mainstream


09, Feb, 2010 @12:05 AM

Article image
Sir John Dankworth & Dame Cleo Laine/London Jazz festival | Jazz review
Various venues
A convalescing John Dankworth managed one moving tune from his wheelchair, while his family members stylishly held the fort, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

22, Nov, 2009 @9:45 PM

Sir John Dankworth, Britain's first jazz maestro, dies at 82
Saxophonist who wrote The Avengers theme tune played with legends Charlie Parker and Ella ­Fitzgerald

Adam Gabbatt, Ben Quinn and agencies

07, Feb, 2010 @10:23 AM