1 Take The `A' Train
2 Johnny Come Lately
3 Swamp Goo
4 Knob Hill
6 La Plus Belle Africaine
7 Rue Bleue
8 A Chromatic Love Affair
10 The Shepherd
11 Tutti For Cootie
12 Freakish Lights
Duke Ellington Orchestra with Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Paul Gonsalves, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Lawrence Brown etc.
rec. Liederhalle, Stuttgart, March 6, 1967
The Ellington road show hit Stuttgart in March 1967. Cootie Williams was back in the serried ranks but Billy Strayhorn was nearing the end; he died a few weeks after the concert. The tunes played reflect a diverse range of Strayhorn and Ellington and beyond - beyond being represented by Raymond Fol's tune Salome. According to W.E. Timmer's massive Ellingtonia a number of other songs were performed but aren't presented in this 73 minute disc and they include long time favourites such as Blood Count, and Things Ain't as well as Mount Harissa and Drag.
We must be grateful for the material that has been preserved and presented in such good sound here. Procope and Hamilton form a formidable clarinet choir, echoing the late 20s days in Swamp Goo with the former taking an extensive cadential passage. Knob Hill is a sinuous Latin American swinger with hints of Horace Silver. Gonsalves rips through it. One can hear Ellington's very ducal piano prompts in that genial finger snapper, Eggo, whilst Cat Anderson's trumpet, like a dazzling Bird of Paradise, is peculiarly iridescent in La Plus Belle Africaine. We also hear Harry Carney's evocative lowing, Jimmy Hamilton's famously `straight' clarinet and the fine bass playing of John Lamb, often overlooked in discussions on the subject of Ellingtonian rhythm sections.
Lawrence Brown has his feature on Rue Bleue whilst Carney's is on A Chromatic Love Affair where he displays his incredible tonal variety - at points you'd swear he was playing tenor and not baritone. Anderson finally goes stratospheric on Fol's Salome, whilst his desk partner Williams arrives for a preaching outing on the Gospel-drenched The Shepherd and stays to turn up the heat on his well loved Tutti for Cootie. At long last Johnny Hodges casts his hypnotic spell on Freakish Lights before drummer Rufus Jones has an animated, though occasionally tawdry, bash during Kixx.
Ellington kept up a mighty schedule, of which this single concert (or part of it) forms a useful element. The band seldom slipped lower than great. What a privilege it would have been to have seen them in the flesh.