The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Duke Ellington – Piano
Jimmy Blanton – Bass
Fred Guy – Guitar
Wallace Jones, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams – Trumpet
Tricky Sam Nanton, Lawrence Brown, Juan Tizol – Trombone
Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick, Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Harry
Carney – Saxes.
This is an excellent example of the music of
the Ellington Band of 1940/41, it had excellent soloists, one
of who was Ben Webster and his brief solos on each track are a
delight. What is confusing is why this was issues as a portrait
of Ben Webster. It should have been entitled a portrait of the
Duke Ellington Orchestra 1940/41. Ben was responsible for 8 of
the tunes, but even that doesn’t justify the title.
Ben Webster had a magnificent and instantly identifiable
sound on the tenor, but so did Johnny Hodges on Alto and Harry
Carney on Baritone. It was part of what Duke’s band was about
a similar thing can be said of the soloists from the other sections.
It was great to hear again tunes like Chelsea Bridge, Rain Check,
What Am I Hear For? and Sittin’ and a Rockin’ and those of us
who complain about the complexity of some modern sax soli passages
should listen to the ones on this album!
Each track is a little gem, the 3 minute time
limit on the 78rpm certainly made the musicians think really hard
about what to put in their 4, 8 or 12 bars, rarely more. This
record is highly recommended as a fine example of this particular
Ellington Band………Pity about the title!