So I find myself having listened to this album at least 4 times this weekend. It could be out of sheer laziness of not having to switch the record, but it's probably more because it's good. This record makes me happy.
The 1956 recording starts off modestly with a new Ellington composition for the Festival. Although apparently its reception isn't what Ellington had hoped for, it's pretty swingin. It starts a little big band-y full of squealing trumpets and trombones, and morphs into a sultry piano and alto sax duet accompanied by the pulse of the ride cymbals (the sustained and shimmering "do-da-do").
What really stands out happens on Side B with the performance of "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" where Paul Gonsalves was told by Duke to blow on the tenor sax for as long as he wanted, which turned out lasting for a remarkable 27 straight choruses (and in no way is that a bad thing). During this, the cover notes mention the "girl who launches 7,000 cheers" (accompanied by a flattering photo) who began dancing in one of the boxes and set off the crowds' building excitement and got them to their feet. The recording really shines through on expressing how everyone was having a great time both playing and being a part of this performance. Put to vinyl, the energy of that moment in 1956 has really captured me.