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



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DUKE ELLINGTON
AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Ellington Jazz Party

FiveFour 34

 

 

1. Malletoba Spank

2. Red Garter (Toot Suite, Pt. I)

3. Red Shoes (Toot Suite, Pt. II)

4. Red Carpet (Toot Suite, Pt. III)

5. Ready, Go! (Toot Suite, Pt. IV)

6. Satin Doll

7. U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)

8. All of Me

9. Tymperturbably Blue

10. Fillie Trillie

11. Hello Little Girl

 

Ray Nance, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker, Andres Ford - Trumpets

Dizzy Gillespie – Trumpet (tracks 7, 11)

Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope - Saxes

Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders - Trombones

Duke Ellington, Jimmy Jones - Piano

Jimmy Woode - Bass

Sam Woodyard - Drums

Jimmy Rushing – Vocals (track 11)

Morris Goldenberg, George Gaber, Elden C. Bailey, Chauncey Morehouse, Harry Breuer, Robert M. Rosengarden, Walter E. Rosenberger, Bradley Spinney, Milton Schlesinger – Percussion (tracks 1, 9)

 

Some critics underrated this 1959 album, perhaps because it doesn’t sound like the familiar Duke Ellington. It opens with a percussion-laden masterpiece which is unlike most other Ellingtonia, and the massive percussion section is also used in Tympeturbably Blue. Yet the album is a fine example of Ellington’s mastery in innovating as well as using both new and old sound sources to create his inimitable magic.

The opening Malletoba Spank is admittedly a surprise, but it is a very pleasant one. The Duke introduces a mass of vibraphones, xylophones, tympani, marimbas and other percussion instruments. It is an exhilarating opening for an album which has the air of a party throughout (even though tracks 1 and 9 were apparently recorded a few days after the rest of the session).

Apart from these two tracks, the remainder of the album contains the Ellington we know and love. Harry Carney’s superb baritone sax (a marvellously rich tone with a slight vibrato) is spotlit in the first part of the Toot Suite called Red Garter. The three other tracks from the Toot Suite also feature Ellington soloists. First comes crystalline clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton on Red Shoes. Russell Procope follows in Red Carpet, also on clarinet but with a deeper, more mysterious tone than Hamilton. Quentin Jackson follows Procope eloquently on plunger-muted trombone. Ready, Go! lets Paul Gonsalves loose for one of his trademark solos, very much in the vein of his legendary 1956 Newport performance. Gonsalves swings throughout the whole six-minute track, ending with a glorious uprising cadenza. Note the contribution that Sam Woodyard’s drums make to the thrill of the whole performance.

Satin Doll may have become hackneyed over the years but, as the sleeve-note says “you’re unlikely to hear it better performed or recorded than here”. The first guest – Dizzy Gillespie – appears on U.M.M.G. (a reference to the hospital where Billy Strayhorn was already receiving treatment). Dizzy starts muted and subtle, backed only by the rhythm section. The orchestra comes in gently, topped by Jimmy Hamilton’s radiant clarinet, before Dizzy removes the mute and starts scaling the heights, backed by the most impressive orchestra in the world.

Ellington has recorded All of Me many times, and Johnny Hodges has done his solo so often that it has become virtually unchanged. But why mend it if it ain’t broke? On the other hand, Tympeturbably Blue comes as a complete surprise. It starts with eight discordant chords, followed by enigmatic sounds from the orchestra, with percussion gradually arriving in ever greater numbers. It is rather like an avant- garde version of Malletoba Spank and shows what an experimenter Ellington was.

Fillie Trillie is a short-but-sweet piece of riffy blues, with a typically lyrical solo by Johnny Hodges. Hello Little Girl really is a finale, with the second guest Jimmy Rushing joining Dizzy Gillespie and the band for a bit of a rave, introduced by the piano player. Rushing sings with his usual exuberance before the band goes into overdrive. Dizzy solos melodically with added gymnastics, and then Rushing returns as the band raises the heat for a big finish.

What a party! I wish I had been there. I am so glad that this album has been reissued by the Cherry Red company, as it is a neglected Ducal masterpiece.

Tony Augarde

 



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