This album was recorded as result of a growing concern towards Jazz musicians and their exclusion from the annual Newport Jazz Festival. Charles Mingus and Max Roach felt that it was their duty to protest the 1960 annual event by way of setting up a rival concert of their own in Freebody Park which was adjacent to the main event. The festival went unrecorded but Candid producer, Nat Hentoff was able to gather many of the participants at a Studio in New York in November 1960 and re-create the event. The “Charles Mingus and the Newport Rebels” album was the result of the recording. Although its not live, it is arguably one of the greatest gathering of Jazz greats in the history of music. Look who showed up: Alto Saxophone – Eric Dolphy, Bass – Charles Mingus, John “Peck” Morrison, Drums – Jo Jones, Max Roach, Piano – Kenny Dorham, Tommy Flanagan, Tenor Saxophone – Walter Benton, Trombone – Jimmy Knepper, Julian Priester, Trumpet – Benny Bailey, Booker Little, Roy Eldridge, Vocals – Abbey Lincoln.
About the album:
The famous Newport Jazz Festival was inaugurated in 1954 in Newport, Rhode Island. Nothing like this had been seen before in jazz. It quickly became a huge success attracting bigger and bigger crowds and with the success came problems and finally in 1960, the bubble burst. A resentment was felt towards the Festival by a significant number of jazz musicians, which resulted in the setting up a rival event.
Max Roach and Charles Mingus, both displaying great fortitude, decided to organise their own ‘Rebel Festival, adjacent to the main event in the vast Freebody Park….Learn More
Here’s a great article from Marc Myers (JazzWax Blog):
George Wein on the Rebel Festival
Most people are unaware that in 1960, Newport, R.I., hosted not one but two jazz festivals. There was the big one that had been produced by George Wein since 1954. And there was a smaller, alternative festival put on by Charles Mingus. But after the riot of July 2, 1960, the smaller concert series known as the Rebel Jazz Festival was all but forgotten in the flurry of headlines.In Burt Goldblatt’s book, Newport Jazz Festival, Lorraine Lorillard, freshly divorced from her husband by 1960 and forced off the Newport Jazz Festival board, is quoted on the origin of the Rebel Jazz Festival:
“In 1960, Nat Hentoff called me from New York and said that Charlie Mingus and Max Roach were fed up with the Festival. They said they didn’t believe in the idea of it. I went to Cliff Walk Manor and spoke to the owner, Nicholas Cannarozzi [about having an independent festival there with Mingus and Roach]. He was delighted with the idea and very cooperative. “It was a lovely setting, right beside the ocean. We were going to have this marvelous publicity. All these musicians sleeping in tents, the way it really should be, except that Charlie Mingus and Max Roach slept in the hotel. They were photographed putting their own stakes in for the tents. It was beautiful.”“There was a lot of intrigue, and they were suspicious that I was really only crossing them and going back and forth to George [Wein]. That was ridiculous. I was suing George and the Festival [after being voted off the board]. I wasn’t about to jeopardize that.”……Learn More