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'Love You Madly',
This review is from: 8 Classic Albums [Audio CD] Duke Ellington (Audio CD)
Edward 'Duke' Ellington 29/4/89-24/5/74. His last words were, " Music is how I lived and how I will be remembered". Never truer words spoken. I don't really have to say much more except to review this 8 album offering on 4CDs at another ridiculous price. I will not duplicate the tracks as Mr Glenn Cook has done this. This may add to the personnel and appeal.
1) SUCH SWEET THUNDER: 7/8/56. A major work. Duke was a Shakespeare fan as was Billy Strayhorn. The title comes from 'Midsummer Night's Dream' inspired by Othello's story to Desdemona. Cat Anderson(t),Ray Nance(t)Clarke Terry(t) Willie Cook(t),Joe Sanders(tbn), Britt Woodman(tbn),Quentin Jackson(tbn), Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney (reeds), Jimmy wood (bs), Sam Woodyard(d), Ellington. 'Hanq Cinq' is a remarkable showcase for Woodman. 'Sister Kate' is a sad moving tale. 'Up and Down' is a vehicle for Clarke Terry. A wonderful album.
2)BLACK BROWN AND BEIGE: Feb 1958. Originally when released personnel and dates were confusing. Cat Anderson(t),Ray Nance(t,vn), Quentin Jackson(tb), Britt Woodman(tb),Johnn Sanders(tb,v-tb), Bill Graham (as,ts), Russell Procope(as,cl),Jimmy Hamilton(cl,ts), Paul Gonsalves(ts),Harry Carney(bs,cl),Jimmy Woode(b), Sam Woodyard(d),Mahalia Jackson(v),Ellington. Numbered in parts. 'Work Song' and 'Come Sunday' are probably the standout tracks with Woodyard, Carney and Jackson working in unison. Mahalia Jackson is singing gospel accompanied by Ellington. (Bessie Smith may have given more?)
3) AT THE BAL MASQUE: (March/April 1958). Same personnel as above with Betty Glammann(harp), Terry Snyder(percussion), Candido Carmero (bongo), Margeret Tynes, Joyce Sherrill, Ozzie Bailey (choir). Apparently a fantasy of Ellington's rooms. An odd record with Ellingtonian satire. Having said that, the band are superb. Hodges is exemplary on 'Alice Blue Gown' and 'Gypsy Love Song'. Likewise, Jackson on 'Donkey Serenade' and Nance on 'Peanut Butter'. Gonsalves demonstrates his brilliance on 'Oh Poor Butterfly'. Humorous and excellent.
4)THE COSMIC SCENE: April 2/3 1958: Clarke Terry, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Woode, Sam Woodyard, Ellington.
Reputedly many Jimmy Hamilton arrangements. 'Perdido', Body and Soul', 'Early Autumn'(where is Getz?),'Bass-ment',(a take on 'Discontented Blues'), add up to a satisfying compilation.
5)ANATOMY OF A MURDER: May/June 1959: Personel consistent. Add Gerald Wilson(t), Billy Strayhorn(p), Booty Wood(tb). Baker(t) and Woodyard are not present. Ellington's score for Otto Preminger's film. Not a favourite of mine, but for completists. The title is something out of a Hitchcock thriller with the bonus of the band particularly Gonsalves's solo (Rock and rolling).Impeccably played with a bonus of swing and more gentle songs.
6)NUTCRACKER SUITE: May/June 1960. LA. Add Willie Cook(t), Andres Maringuito(t),Eddie Mullins(t), Jean Tizel(v-tb), Lawrwnce Brown(tb),Aeron Bell(b) as replacement/additional personel. Ellington puts his mark on arrangements that add to tempo, mood and colour. Never short of ideas, he drives the band through 'Overture' with Ray Nance outstanding. 'Entr'acte' likewise with Gonsalves, Carney prominent. 'Sugar Rum Cherry' receives a more mellow Gonsalves. Another wonderful Ellington band.
7)PIANO IN THE FOREGROUND: 1/3/61. Aeron Bell(b),Sam Woodyard(d),Ellington. Recorded the year after the big band 'Piano in the Background'. Very much an Ellington show with a mastery of the blues. 'So', 'Blues For Jerry' and a collection of standards. He is more assertive on 'Summertime', apparently a reaction to events in the Congo at the time. 'Springtime In Africa' is unlike Ellington's usual compositions. A real treat to hear him on his instrument with just bass and drum accompaniment.
8)TOGETHER AGAIN: April 3/4 1961 NY: This is fine dialogue between two legends of music. Louis Armstrong is in great form backed by Ellington's touch on the piano. 'Mooche', 'Black and Tan' and 'Im In the Mood' are truly great tracks.
Another wonderful compilation. If you don't have them they will give many hours of pleasure. Pricewise nonsensical. These are truly classic. A must for any fan or collector. Sound good. Finally, Ellington is quoted as saying "playing bop is like scrabble with all the vowels missing". No doubt tongue in cheek.