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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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Love You Madly

Vol. 14: 1947-1953

Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120814





1. Sultry Serenade
2. Hy’a Sue
3. Golden Cress
4. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
5. Progressive Gavotte
6. Love You Madly
7. Build That Railroad (Sing That Song)
8. Fancy Dan
9. VIP’s Boogie
10. Monologue (Pretty & the Wolf)
11. Jam with Sam
12. Deep Night
13. Please be Kind
14. Smada
15. Take the ‘A’ Train
16. Rock–Skippin’ at the Blue Note
17. Satin Doll
18. Skin Deep

This was one of my favourite periods of the Ellington Band. The Duke was at the height of his creative talent and the band was packed full of great soloists. The band had also acquired a great overall feel and the fact that in the late forties many big bands were being disbanded, meant that it was easier for the Duke to find more than adequate replacements when anyone left. Ballad singing had become the popular music and smaller groups, first with R & B and then Rock and Roll, took over the ballrooms. It is said that it was only the money which came in from the royalties from his compositions which enabled the Duke to keep his band together, and it was not until the Newport Jazz Festival of 1956 that the band again became an icon in the music business.

The Duke was always his own man; he never followed fads, but at the same time he was always ahead of the game as far as big bands were concerned. During the period this CD covers, the band saw very many changes, but every departing musician was replaced with a soloist of even greater quality than his predecessor. Many of the tracks on this record are Ellington compositions, with four from Billy Strayhorn and the superb ‘Skin Deep’ from Louie Bellson.

The first three tracks all feature trombone players: Tyree Glenn on the first two. He demonstrates his flexibility with two fine solos, the second in the style of the late Tricky Sam Nanton, who had by this time passed on. The big warm sound of Lawrence Brown is heard on track 3. ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ has features for Hodges, Carney and Nance as well as a fine vocal from Al Hibbler.

Strayhorn’s ‘Progressive Gavotte’ has features for Jimmy Hamilton, Carney, ‘Shorty’ Baker and Hodges, and it shows the musical influence of the time. It is a source of great pleasure to me that the Duke did not rearrange his earlier works, but kept them in their original form for us to enjoy again. ‘Love You Madly’ became a feature of many latter-day concerts from the orchestra. This first version features the unknown but very competent Yvonne Lanause on vocals. ‘Build That Railroad’ is a feature for Al Hibbler’s vocal talents.

In early 1956 the Ellington Band had a crisis when Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown and Sonny Greer all left the band at the same time. Fortunately the Harry James Band were going through a thin time and the Duke was able to recruit Willie Smith, spectacular drummer Louie Bellson and secure the return of Juan Tizol on trombone. The next seven tracks feature these new recruits along with brilliant trombonist Britt Woodman. Later the band was strengthened again by the addition of trumpet superstar Clark Terry, who has been in the major league of trumpet and flugel players ever since. ‘Monologue’ is a whimsical tale excellently narrated by the Duke himself: it could have been recorded yesterday! ‘Skin Deep’ is very nearly unequalled as a drum solo, which again has stood the test of time.

This is a really fine release, the quality of the sound is excellent and as usual Scott Yanow provides an interesting and very informative sleeve note. I recommend it without reservation.

Don Mather


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