Verve's Norman Granz took his microphones and equipment to the fourth annual Newport Jazz Festival in July of 1957 and recorded extensively there, catching several live sets by both established and up-and-coming jazz artists in wonderfully clear sonic fullness, including this Friday evening kickoff set in Freebody Park from an all-star band led by the legendary tenor saxman Coleman Hawkins and including Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Pete Brown on alto sax, Ray Bryant on piano, Al McKibbon on bass, and Jo Jones on drums. It's a joyous affair driven by Jones' propulsive drumming and a couple of well-placed ballads like "Day by Day" interspersed through the set before the whole band jumps in for a rousing finale on the old chestnut "Sweet Georgia Brown," which here sounds wonderfully fresh and agile. The performance was originally released by Verve on LP in 1958 and now, some 50 years later, on CD. The sound quality is remarkable, with studio-level clarity while still capturing the energy, intimacy, and vitality of a festive live gig, complete with introductions and announcements, all of which makes this a delightful snapshot of a veteran band of musicians who are doing what they do best.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett