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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DUKE ELLINGTON

Festival Session

Poll Winners Records PWR 27209

 

 

1. Perdido
2. Copout Extension
3. Duel Fuel - Part 1
4. Duel Fuel - Part 2
5. Duel Fuel - Part 3
6. Idiom '59 - Part 1 (Vapor)
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
13. Idiom '59 (Live version)
14. Copout Extension (Live version)

Duke Ellington - Piano
Russell Procope - Alto sax, clarinet
Johnny Hodges - Alto sax
Jimmy Hamilton - Tenor sax, clarinet
Paul Gonsalves - Tenor sax
Harry Carney - Baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Cat Anderson, Harold "Shorty" Baker, Fats Ford, Willie Cook, Clark Terry - Trumpets
Ray Nance - Trumpet, violin, vocals
Quentin Jackson - Trombone, bass
Britt Woodman, John Sanders - Trombones
Jimmy Woode - Bass (tracks 1, 2, 7-14)
Joe Benjamin - Bass (track 6)
Sam Woodyard, Jimmy Johnson - Drums

 

This reissued 1959 album was recorded after the Duke Ellington Orchestra had appeared at the Newport and Playboy jazz festivals and it contains several works which were premiered at those events. But it begins with an Ellington standard: Perdido, which starts off the proceedings cheerfully with a solo from Clark Terry which includes a musical conversation with the drummers.

In fact the drums are a strong presence on this album, with Sam Woodyard using his relentless offbeat rimshots to drive along Paul Gonsalves' freewheeling solo on Copout Extension. It is difficult to tell exactly which drummer is soloing in the first two parts of Duel Fuel (also known as Duael Fuel). In the first part, they play tag with the orchestra, and the second part veers effectively between very loud and very soft. The final part of Duel Fuel consists of a long drum battle between Sam Woodyard and Jimmy Johnson.

The opening section of Idiom'59 is typical of Duke's adventurous spirit, with mysterious chords and shifting tempos. The second part opens with that unique Ducal piano leading into a bluesy ensemble, with clarinet (Jimmy Hamilton or Russell Procope or both?) floating over the top. The third section returns to the mysterious mood of the first, with very unconventional voicings, although the Duke and Clark Terry return us to a blues feeling. It is a shame that this intriguing three-piece suite dropped out of Ellington's programmes after this recording - but perhaps that is an indication of the richness of Duke's repertoire.

We are back on familiar ground with Things Ain't What They Used to Be, which spotlights Johnny Hodges' resplendent alto sax flying freely. Launching Pad was orchestrated by Ellington but it was actually composed by Clark Terry, who was rather peeved that another trumpeter (Ray Nance) got to do the featured solo.

The original LP stopped here, but the first CD reissue added two tracks from the same session, both oft-repeated in Ellington programmes: V.I.P.'s Boogie, which boasts some magisterial baritone sax from Harry Carney plus high-flying clarinet from Jimmy Hamilton, and Jam with Sam, designed to give solo opportunities to many band members.

This CD offers two more extra tracks - both recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival earlier in 1959. This version of Idiom '59 was the work's premiere, and the only other recording of the piece. Given that this was its first public performance, it is remarkably well integrated - making one wish even more that it had remained in the Ellington repertoire. Paul Gonsalves stretches out further on the second version of Copout Extension, which clocks in at ten minutes rather than the previous eight. The backing ensemble seems even more exciting than in the other performance of the tune.

This album proves that Duke's orchestra was as strong as ever in the late fifties - perhaps revived by its success at the 1956 Newport Festival. The arrangements and the performances here are due cause for a festive celebration.

Tony Augarde



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