Yesterday George Wein's publicist Carolyn McClair called from the CareFusion Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I. She buzzed to tell me that George had just paid tribute to the four police officers I tracked down for my recent Wall Street Journal article about the Newport riot of 1960 (go here).
On Saturday, George took a moment out of the festival's midday line-up to honor Charlie Oxx, William "Cub" Costello, Robert Murphy and Jack Taylor. All four are local residents and retired patrolmen who had helped restore order in Newport on July 2, 1960. On that night, 12,000 young people who didn't hold tickets to the jazz festival began to riot in an attempt to crash the festival gates, putting the safety of 16,500 attendees and musicians at risk. [Riot photos courtesy of the Newport Daily News]
For years, the riot was hung around George's neck, with Newport initially pointing a finger at the festival and its promotion as the cause of the convergence and violence. As I wrote in my article, the truth is that George and the festival had nothing to do with attracting the overflow. The most likely cause was a series of films released earlier in the spring that glamorized Newport, the jazz festival and the beach—creating the impression that the music was free and seating plentiful.
For a jazz writer, it's not often you get a chance to right history, help generate good will and bring closure to one of jazz's most charged moments. For years George felt badly about what had happened but decided to let it all go. It's a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured that night, which was largely due to the restraint and professionalism of the local officers as well as the state police and Rhode Island National Guardsmen who were summoned.
George's tribute ended a chapter in jazz history neatly. George is no longer the fall guy for the riot. Newport's finest and the town itself now knows that George is a stand-up person and promoter. And most important, the jazz festival in Newport is again a shining example of jazz bringing people together outdoors for positive purposes.Amazon on sale. Speaking of jazz consuming, JazzWax reader Tom Fine sent along an email noting that many Blue Note recordings are available as downloads at Amazon for $5. Start by going here.
Egberto Gismonti. Jazz musician Bill Kirchner's Jazz From The Archives show tonight will focus on Brazilian pianist and guitarist Egberto Gismonti [pictured]. Tune in at 11 p.m. (EDT) from anywhere in the world here.
Jeri Southern. Record promoter Dick LaPalm sent along a link to a beautiful article on singer Jeri Southern in which he's quoted extensively. You better go here now.
CD discovery of the week: Back in 1963, Woody Herman's Fourth Herd teamed with Sarah Vaughan for a series of concerts in support of the National Guard. On the Radio: The 1963 Live Guard Sessions was released a few years ago but I only recently had a chance to dig in and it's a doozy. Not only did Woody and Sarah work well together, but also the Nat Pierce charts here are quite something. If you dig this Herd's reed section, the slow motion Midnight Sun will knock your socks off. And Four Brothers here seems to have something extra going on. Vaughan's tracks are lush and lugubrious, including On Green Dolphin Street (catch that final note!), Just One of Those Things and Day In Day Out.
You'll find On the Radio (Acrobat Music) at iTunes and here.
Oddball album cover of the week: Two odd observations about this one. First, though the type is small in the upper right-hand corner, this 1955 release by Coleman Hawkins was classified as "intimate jazz." Record stores must have been so large then that jazz sections had multiple zones. Second, why the art director decided to cast the tenor sax giant as a gleeful Peeping Tom or sunny stalker is anyone's guess.