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



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DUKE ELLINGTON

FESTIVAL SESSION

Recorded September 8,1959 in Columbia’s studio in New York City.

Columbia/Legacy 512916-2

 

       

    1. Perdido
    2. Copout Extension
    3. Duael Fuel – Part 1
    4. Duael Fuel – Part 2
    5. Duael Fuel – Part 3
    6. Idiom ’59 – Part 1
    7. Idiom ’59 – Part 2
    8. Idiom ’59 – Part 3
    9. Things Ain’t What they Used to Be
    10. Launching Pad
    11. V.I.P.’s Boogie
    12. Jam With Sam

     

    Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker, Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Willie Cook, Andres Merenghito, Fats Ford. – Trumpets
    Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman, John Sanders – Trombone
    Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney – Saxes
    Duke Ellington – Piano
    Jimmy Woode, Joe Benjamin – Bass
    Sam Woodyard, Jimmy Johnson – Drums

    Jimmy Woods missed the start of the session. On Duel Fuel Quentin Jackson left the trombone section to play bass. Joe Benjamin was sent for and he plays on the first movement of Duael Fuel. After that take Jimmy Woode arrived and played the rest of the session. The session was recorded after the Ellington Band had played at the majority of the more important Jazz Festivals of that year, starting with Newport, where the band had already been very successful earlier. This was quite an unusual thing at that time where the tendency was to ‘live’ festival recording sessions. The Duke however was a very experienced bandleader and he knew that the new music he had written for the tour was challenging and that it would benefit from the many performances, before the recording session and so it proved! This is a superb edition of the Ellington Band with everyone on top form.

    Perdido has Harry Carney playing the melody on Baritone, Ray Nance taking the first trumpet chorus and Clark Terry all the others. Clark whom I personally rate as one of the finest jazz trumpeters of all time plays magnificently and the band sparkles.

    Copout Extension is a long solo feature for Paul Gonsalves, another favourite of mine and a master of the long solo build.

    Duael Fuel uses two drummers who are featured in the first movement, the band plays some really tight and fine ensemble work in part two and the two drummers return to take the band into part three. Announcements from the Duke and applause from the musicians! I have no doubt at all that this was a showstopper at the festivals with these two superb drum masters.

    Idiom 95 begins with Russell Procope on clarinet playing across the band. The second section has the band swinging along as only Ellington Band’s can and the piece then features Jimmy Hamilton who plays a clarinet solo of great technical skill, with his usual superb sound. The Duke himself is featured at the start of part three and throughout the whole piece, the band plays with great swing and excellent precision. Clark Terry solos again on this section and is once again immediately recognisable because of his unique trumpet style.

    Things Ain’t What They Used to Be is an Ellington favourite and this version features another of the band’s amazing soloists, the legendary Johnny Hodges. Another Ellington Band star performer who is immediately identifiable by his magnificent alto sax tone and stunning improvisational ability.

    Launching Pad was a new piece written by the Duke for the festival circuit, it has a small band of Clark Terry, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Hamilton, and Paul Gonsalves. Once again the Duke has produced something delightful and new, though what the point of the echo on Ray Nance’s solo is beyond me. It sounds like a recording accident, but I can’t believe that to be true!

    Harry Carney’s distinctive baritone sound introduces VIP Boogie, a blues composition which was originally part of a mini suite called ‘Monologue, Duet & Threesome’, as was the last track Jam with Sam. The Duke uses this arrangement to introduce many of his soloists.

    The sleeve says that this recording is a jazz masterpiece and that it is a brilliant, ebullient album, I heartily agree! This is an album that should have a very broad appeal throughout the various sectors of jazz affectionados.

     

    Don Mather



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