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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke




THE POPULAR

Duke Ellington

RCAVICTOR Gold Series 09026638802

Crotchet midprice 

 

  1. Take the "A" Train
  2. I Got It Bad (and that Ain’t Good)
  3. Perdido
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Black and Tan fantasy
  6. The Twitch
  7. Solitude
  8. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
  9. The Mooche
  10. Sophisticated Lady
  11. Creole Love Call
  12. Caravan
  13. Wings and Things
  14. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

Duke Ellington – Piano John Lamb – Bass Sam Woodyard – Drums
Cootie Williams, Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington, Herbie Jones – Trumpet
Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors – Trombone
Johnny Hodges, Russell Precope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney – Saxes.

This album recorded by the 1966 band was with the purpose of re-recording items that had become perennial favourites in the Ellington library. An album for this purpose would have to start with the ‘A Train’; nothing else could fill the bill. Cootie Williams is featured on this version, Johnny Hodges is heard to good effect on ‘I Got It Bad’.

Perdido has Chuck Connors on Bass Bone as first soloist followed by Cat Anderson, Hodges and the unforgettable Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet. Mood Indigo has some delightful Paul Gonsalves tenor and some tasteful piano from the leader, before returning to the theme.

Black and Tan Fantasy has solos from Cootie Williams, Lawrence Brown and Russell Precope on clarinet, the latter somewhat reminiscent of Barney Bigard. The Twitch was the only new tune on the album, but this is a blues and the Ellington Band has always played the blues, of the soloists I enjoyed Paul Gonsalves the most, but all are good. Solitude was written by the Duke in 1934 and is likely to always remain a ‘standard’ in the jazz world.

Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me (1940) is a feature for Lawrence Brown. The Mooche is a much earlier piece of Ellingtonia, it was written in 1928. My personal favourite of all the Ellington compositions is Sophisticated Lady and it is played with great feeling here by Johnny Hodges. Creole Love Call is another of the older compositions (1927), but it is classic Ellington.

Caravan has a theme statement from Harry Carney followed by the ensemble; the tempo quite modest compared to some other versions. Wings and Things is a Hodges composition that swings along merrily as a blues composition should. An alternative take of ‘Do Nothing’ completes the album.

In my record collection I have quite a lot of Duke Ellington material which contains alternative versions of most of these arrangements. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing this 1966 recording however and recommend it to listeners whether they already have an Ellington collection or not.

 

Don Mather



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