on 25 December 2012
Do I really need another live recording of the Duke, and from this fallow period in his career?
The liner notes inform us that "Jazzhaus is a new music label. It presents audio and video recordings of live performances from the archives of Sudwestrundfunk in Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and Mainz, Southwest Germany... The SWR archives are possibly the most comprehensive reservoir of unpublished live jazz recordings worldwide: 3,000 hours of footage in stunning sound quality and featuring over 400 ensembles and soloists..."
I cannot comment on any other Jazzhaus releases. All I can say is that in the case of this 1967 recording of the Duke and His Orchestra, Jazzhaus have delivered on their extravagant promise. It's not a set-list that I would have chosen: Swamp Goo, Eggo, La Plus Belle Africaine, Rue Bleue, A Chromatic Love Affair, Salome, Tutti For Cootie and Kixx are not very interesting compositions in themselves. What makes this set worth getting is that it presents these minor pieces in the best possible light. Yes, the sound quality is stunning, and Ellington always strikes me as a man who will rise to the occasion: give him decent surroundings to work in and he will reward you.
''Johnny Come Lately' breaks the ice', we are informed. Try out Amazon's MP3 sample and you'll see what this means. As the orchestra makes its entrance, it becomes clear that the 1967 model needed time to get up a head of steam. When the orchestra does get into its stride, a good time is had by all. There's a very nice balance which highlights the efforts of two players in particular: John Lamb on bass and the piano player himself, who is in fine fettle.
'Knob Hill' and 'Freakish Lights' are better known as 'Mount Harissa' and 'Blood Count' respectively. These are songs that would make it onto my wish list. I'm awarding five stars in spite of the inclusion of the dreadful 'Kixx', 10 minutes and 24 seconds that make me wonder how a man as richly talented as Ellington could have been prepared to allow himself such appalling lapses of taste.
Do I really need it? I would say that no self-respecting collector of live Ellingtonia can be without this one, and I'm now off to check whether other Jazzhaus recordings similarly live up to their promise.
on 30 January 2013
I'm indebted to the 5-star reviewer for telling it as it is. That no serious Ellington collector should ignore this concert recording - even if he already has several from this period when the Duke was touring Europe almost every year. It's first virtue is great sound which one doesn't usually find with live concert recordings. I also like the absence of Dukal warhorses which no doubt were played but are not included on this disc. I would also recommend it just for 2 of Cootie Williams's unique specialities after rejoining Ellington. For once one doesn't get the usual Johnny Hodges 3 number interlude but one track called "Freakish Lights" which is in fact "Blood Count". I can't quite agree with the reviewer about "Kixx". It starts out great, at very high speed with the entire band creating terrific momentum, but after 3 1/2 minutes one is subjected to a particularly awful drum solo. But having been to Ellington concerts I don't think he should be blamed. This is what a large percentage of attendees want to her - as evidenced by wild applause at its conclusion. To hire a drummer with the nickname "speedy" does seem to indicate he was more than happy to cater to proletarian tastes - but if this enabled him to fill European concert halls who are we to complain if it we end up with great CD's like this?
on 18 April 2014
There is a sense with this that Duke was trying to impress with shear noise. The first
six tracks are the best especially, Swamp Goo, which has the jungle rhythm of The Mooche
Rufus Jones's drumming is prominent in the mix and for me too prominent.
Great to hear Johnny Hodges at this period, 1967.
on 31 January 2013
must rate as one of the best recorded concerts by ellington,the band seem in fine form,,most solos are excellent,and the music,while not groundbreaking is at least a pleasant change from his usual concert fare!