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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Original 1946-1947 Recordings

NAXOS JAZZ 8.120813




  1. Diminuendo In Blue
  2. Magenta Haze
  3. Blue Skies
  4. Sultry Sunset
  5. Happy-Go-Lucky Local
  6. The Beautiful Indians, Part 1: Hiawatha
  7. The Beautiful Indians, Part 2: Minnehaha
  8. Flippant Flurry
  9. Golden Feather
  10. Tulip Or Turnip
  11. Overture to a Jam Session
  12. It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dream
  13. Jam-A-Ditty
  14. Who Struck John
  15. How High the Moon
  16. Frustration
  17. Blue Lou
  18. Far Away Blues
  19. Park at 106th

Duke Ellington - Piano
Shelton Hemphill, Taft Jordan, Francis Williams, Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker, Trumpets
Ray Nance -Trumpet, Violin, Vocals
Lawrence Brown, Wilbur DeParis, Claude Jones - Trombones
Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Al Sears, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney - Saxes
Fred Guy - Guitar
Oscar Pettiford - Bass
Sonny Greer - Drums
Kay Davies - Vocals

The Ellington band of 1946 to 1947, was one of the Duke’s finest, although personally I liked all the bands, but I have a preference for the later bands, of which this one was the forerunner. The recordings here are just packed with great solos, played by a band of superb musicians. Magenta Haze is a typical example featuring the superb alto saxophone talents of Johnny Hodges. Blue Skies is an arrangement pianist Mary Lou Williams did for the Orchestra, it is a trumpet battle featuring solos from everyone in the section, but it is Cat Anderson who provides the high note sector. Sultry Sunset is another Johnny Hodges feature, before Charlie Parker arrived on the scene Hodges was always regarded as the No1 jazz alto player. As their style of playing is completely different, to me, there is little point in saying one is better than the other, they were both brilliant soloists. Al Sears one of the lesser known Ellington musicians, plays well on Hiawatha, whilst Kay Davies provides the vocal on Minnehaha.

Jimmy Hamilton was to remain with the band for many years, his beautiful clarinet sound and faultless technique, make him the standard to which others are often compared. He is heard to great effect on the tricky Flippant Flurry. Yet another superb soloist, baritone sax man Harry Carney plays the big horn with great skill on the ballad Golden Feather.

The oddly named Jam-A-Ditty, features Carney, Hamilton and also Lawrence Brown on trombone. Who Struck John is a blues feature for Johnny Hodges, How High the Moon features Shorty Baker on trumpet and Jimmy Hamilton on Clarinet. Carney returns to star in Frustration. Blue Lou has some fine ensemble playing followed by a trumpet feature for Ray Nance. Far Away Blues is a wistful feature for Hodges and the last track, which is particularly successful, Park at 106th, features Ray Nance, Oscar Pettiford on bass and the Duke himself.

The Ellington Band is always instantly recognisable and this selection of tracks demonstrates, not only the excellence of the soloists, but the bands capability to play so well together.

I recommend this album without any reservation, the music is well presented and well researched and there is an excellent sleeve note by Scott Yanow.

Don Mather


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