What is the litmus test of good art? It should hold up well-or very well-over time, and one goes back,again and again, to read, or view, or listen, discovering something new each time.
So it is with The Far East Suite, and for those who are not familiar with Ellington's many Suites, a good starting point.
The band was in excellent form, and the songs are ageless. The Strayhorn/Ellington collaborative art form was at its apex.
Time is given to let the musicians stretch, and Hodges even tosses in some blues honking-but everyone is at the top of their game; Gonsalves, Hamilton, Carney, and the unsung hero of the LP, Rufus Jones, who made it swing like mad with outstanding drumming.
By the way, one can now see versions of "Isfahan" and "Agra" on YouTube,allowing another insight to the players; Hodges, as usual, never showing a hint of emotion, Carney with his circular breathing. Amazing players and amazing songs.Mt Harissa, Amad,Blue Pepper..None got much airtime, if at all, but highlights the depth of composition and colour.
One small piece of trivia. Isfahan, (which is pure poetry, and cannot be improved upon) was written by Strayhorn years before the band ever went to the Far East; it was originally called "Elf."
If you don't yet have this, get it, Should be part of everyone's collection of Ellingtonia.