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Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play The Blues Back To Back

Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play The Blues Back To Back

10 Mar 2010
4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 10 Mar. 2010
  • Release Date: 10 Mar. 2010
  • Label: SINETONE AMR
  • Copyright: 2010 Sinetone AMR
  • Total Length: 47:40
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B003BVBVQ2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,763 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Although Hodges made a series of memorable recordings with fellow Ellingtonians in the 1930's and 40's, none of these collaborations quite reached the stature of this excellent record.
"Back to Back" features an allstar band that included former Basie sidemen Harry "Sweet's" Edison (one of the greatest trumpeter's to emerge during the Swing Era) and the superb Jo Jones on drums. A rarity for Ellington, extra spice is supplied by the addition Les Spann's wry guitar. The combination gels as is this was a regular outfit.
Any fan thinking that he will give this disc a miss given the familiar material will be making a grave error as these classic compositions by the likes of vintage composers such as W.C. Handy are thoroughly re-worked. Try "Wabash Blues" - the standout track on the CD with the latin introduction. Hodges is imperious and Edison is the perfect foil having an almost Miles Davis like sparseness in his playing. However, the revelation for me when I first heard this record was Ellington's piano playing, his choice of unusual intervals revealing just how under-rated he was as a soloist. Listening to Ellington, it is clear that there could be no Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols nor Andrew Hill without the elder-statesman. Each piano solo is a masterpiece, the improvisations being skillfully carved from the original structure until he has sculptures something wholly original.
Ellington and Hodges' best work may be considered to be with the former's orchestra, but "Back to back" remains for this reviewer a faultless CD that deserves to be considered amongst the top ten jazz albums of all time. Each time you listen to it, there are new gems to consider.
More than essential.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a really nice recording. The band master had a love hate love relationship with his star saxophonist (or perhaps the reverse was true), but between them they produced a really mellow sound.

I'm still new to jazz records, trying to find my way. I seem to have hit lucky with this one. I bought this because the word "blues" appeared in the title, and that's a genre I'm far more familiar with. I know blues when I hear it... this is Jazz with just a touch of blues-ness and it really hits the spot. I found myself smiling all the way through and its difficult to not have some part of your body twitch in time.

The technical quality of the recording is superb it sounds like it as recorded yesterday and the fidelity is precise. It does tend to have that early stereo recording shtick with any given instrument being far over on one side or the other of the audio image. That being said the CD producers have tried to faithfully recreate the record. To add to the feel you get the original line notes and some extra info from people who really seem to be in the know.

Really recommended bargain
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Format: Audio CD
I cannot add a lot to what has already been said by previous reviewers of this CD.
The basically simple chord progressions of the blues are easily mastered by these superb musicians who were, of course, used to playing more complex material. It must have been a "doddle" to them so they proceeded to put their own, very individual stamp on the tunes which sound like never before.
An important "minus point" however is the sound which, although cristal clear bringing out all the instruments perfectly, is spoilt for me at least,by the primitive (1959) stereo with trumpet way over to the left and sax way over to the right. The rhythm section seems "split" with very little sound in the middle. Maybe OK through speakers but definitely not headphones! This is a common fault in early stereo recordings. Surely today's remix engineers could take care of this.
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Format: Audio CD
After reading so many enthusiastic reviews I wonder if this CD is the same EMI LP I purchased in the early 60's. An incredible period for every Ellington fan because every few months another of his Columbia masterworks was released - each one displaying another side of his genius. "The Nutcracker Suite" especially confounding English jazz critics - many deciding Ellington was now definitely going to the dogs. As in 1933, 1935, 1945, 1954, etc.

One day an album cover appeared promising a unique Duke Ellington Johnny Hodges collaboration. (the original EMI cover has the words Back to Back in plain white - the yellow and blue version on this CD is an abomination). One takes it home to find every track ruined by Harry Edison's inability to compose a lyrical trumpet solo. Resorting instead to repeating the same short phrases over and over again until your wonder if he can ever find a way to pass the baton back to Hodges. Not just my opinion. The next weekend I return to Charing X Road and asked the 2 experts behind Dobell's counter what they thought and both agreed Edison was completely out of his depth - ruining what should have been a historic meeting of 2 jazz giants.

Has musical appreciation drastically changed in the last 50 years? How can one enjoy the smooth swinging intros created by Duke and Hodges and on every listening manage to tune-out Edison's repetitive non-Ellingtonian clunking interruptions?

There are a few salient facts that might explain what went wrong at this recording session. Firstly it was only Hodges who had the contract with Norman Granz. The man who persuaded Hodges and Lawrence Brown to leave Duke - causing Ellington to have the leanest 4 years of his illustrious career.
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