Howard McGhee - trumpet; Clark Terry - trumpet, flugelhorn; Coleman Hawkins - tenor sax; Zoot Sims - tenor sax; Joe Zawinul - piano; Wendell Marshall - bass; Roy Haynes - drums
Newport Jazz Festival impresario George Wein loves a good jazz jam. From the inception of that annual outdoor bash in 1954, he gathered groups of like-minded musicians each year to share the stage before the crowds at Freebody Park on the banks of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, often joining in himself on piano. For the gala 1963 jam, Wein gave up the piano chair to Joe Zawinul, a member of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet at the time. Joining Zawinul on this Thursday evening extravaganza were legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins along with tenorman Zoot Sims, a one-time member of Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, trumpet stars Howard McGhee and Clark Terry, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drumming great Roy Haynes. Together they swung through a set of familiar jazz standards, each showcasing their considerable solo skills along the way.
Haynes gets the party started with a downbeat and a cymbal crash, kicking off a spirited run through "Sweet Georgia Brown." Hawkins solos first, his robust toned tenor work cutting through the mix with regal authority. Next up is McGhee, who attacks with staccato blasts on his trumpet while Haynes swings insistently behind him, dropping unexpected bass drum accents as he goes. Sims solos next, blowing with a pungent tenor tone and an easy way of negotiating the changes. He is followed by Terry, who summons up some rapid-fire high register work on the trumpet before Zawinul takes over with a stellar, swinging piano solo. The two saxophonists and two trumpeters then engage in some fiery trading of eights with drummer Haynes for a terrific finish to this timeless jazz jam staple.
Zawinul's delicate piano intro next signals the start of "I Can't Get Started," a beautiful ballad vehicle for McGhee, the great bop trumpeter from the '40s who played alongside Charlie Parker and represents a kind of missing link between Swing era trumpet star Roy Eldridge and pioneer bebopper Fats Navarro. The full ensemble next launches into the Swing era staple "Indiana," which has Hawkins coming out swinging first with some bold tenor work to get the jam going. McGhee follows with some invigorating bop-inspired blowing, including a direct quote from "Donna Lee" (the Charlie Parker tune based on "Indiana"). Sims continues the jam with a cool-toned tenor solo that simmers before gradually building to a brusque peak, and then Terry follows the cycle of solos with a brisk, bright solo, flaunting his peerless facility in the high register. Zawinul adds a cascading solo to the proceedings before Haynes erupts on the kit with a heroic drum solo to take the band out.
The Hawk next delivers a magnificent reading of the oft-covered ballad "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," flaunting the huge, expressive tenor tone and endless stream of fertile ideas that have enshrined him in the Jazz Hall of Fame. Hawkins' dazzling cadenza puts an exclamation point at the end of this lyrical jazz standard. Zawinul, Haynes, and Marshall then set the pace for a rousing uptempo rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack," with each of the stellar participants of this all-star Newport ensemble getting a solo taste in the process (starting with Terry this time, then going in order to Hawkins, McGhee, Sims, and Zawinul. The horns trade some fiery eights at the end of this Monkish jam.
Hawkins kicks off a swinging two tenor jam on Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" that has him going toe-to-toe in some tight call-and-response work with Sims. Terry next sings through his horn on the poignant Hoagy Carmichael melody, "Stardust," accompanied only by Zawinul, Marshall, and Haynes on brushes. "Chasin' at Newport" is essentially a riff-based blues that pairs the two trumpeters for some bop-fueled fireworks. McGhee goes first on this two-trumpet jam, dipping into his bop roots on his extroverted solo. Terry follows with some brisk, facile lines full of his signature filigrees and soulful exclamations in the high register, as Zawinul, Marshall, and Haynes keep things cooking underneath. Sparks fly as they exchange eights near the end of this uptempo burner.
The all-stars close out their Newport set with a romp through the ebullient Swing era jamming vehicle, "Undecided." Sims comes out of the gate on this one in relaxed fashion, taking his time and gradually building momentum with his cool toned tenor solo. McGhee follows with some brisk trumpet work; then Hawkins delivers another classy big-toned tenor barrage. He's followed by a Zawinul piano solo, and then Terry flies in with his signature clean articulation and impeccable facility on the trumpet. Haynes gets in another dynamic drum solo before they return to the catchy end and bring the tune, and this gala 1963 set, to a rousing conclusion. (Milkowski)