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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, Ian Lace, Peter Woolf, Colin Clarke


Recorded 1927 - 1931 original issues on Victor, Brunswick + Okeh labels.

Collective personnel:
Duke Ellington piano,
Bubber Miley, Louis Metcalf, Freddy Jenkins, Arthur Whetsol, Cootie Williams trumpets.
Joe Nanton,Juan Tizol trombones,
Otto Hardwick, Harry Carney, Rudy Jackson,Johnny Hodges, Barney Bigard reeds.
Fred Guy banjo.
Wellman Brand bass.
Sonny Greer,drums
plus Charlie Barnet (sax) 6 The Rhythm Boys - vocal 7. Adelaide Hall vocal 11

1. Cotton Club Stomp
2. Mood Indigo
3. Rockin' in Rhythm
4. Misty Mornin'
5. The Mooche
6. Ring Dem Bells
7. Three Little Words
8. Double Check Stomp
9. The Blues With a Feelin'
10. Jubilee Stomp
11. Creole Love Call
12. Harlem River Quiver (Brown Berries)
13. Black Beauty
14. Hot Feet
15. Saratoga Swing
16. Shout 'em Aunt Tillie *
17. Black and Tan Fantasy
18. It's Glory

Duke Ellington was referred to as ''The Hot Bach'' in a wonderful article written by Richard O. Boyer in 1944. Like his Baroque predecessor Ellington paved the way for subsequent musicians. In retrospect his influence and legacy can be seen to be as far reaching as were those of his German forerunner.

Like Bach , Ellington wrote for the ensemble and individual musicians available. He also composed with a specific function in mind whether it was a Cotton Club show, a film or a dance. All of the above are amply illustrated on this disc.

Ellington was not averse to borrowing or revamping existing material. One strain of Mood Indigo is based on a 'lick' clarinettist Barney Bigard often used as a warm up. Several of the Dukes' up tempo pieces used the 'Tiger Rag' chord sequence.'Cotton Tail' (not on this disc) was based on I Got Rhythm' and 'Black Beauty' is on the sequence of 'Sweet Georgia Brown'.

This disc features as good a selection of early Ellington as any I have heard. Most of the famous tunes from these years are here.- the only notable exception being 'East Street Louis Toodle-oo'. There are many classic moments such as the inverted trio voicing on 'Mood Indigo', muted trombone and trumpet with the clarinet in the chalemeau register. This is typical Ellington, giving the lead to the trombone, most arrangers would have given this instrument the bass line.

There are a couple of errors in the song titles - the final track is actually 'It's Glory' and Shoot 'em Aunt Tilly' is 'Shout 'em Aunt Tilly'- which somewhat alters the inference-i.e. this is not an early form of protest song!

On a more serious note there are many wonderful moments on this disc - the emergence of such soloists as Hodges, Williams, Nanton and Bigard - and the ethereal use of the wordless vocal by Adelaide Hall on ' Creole Love Call'.

This selection is absolutely essential Ellington. For the new collector it must represent the best value in terms of price and quality of any edition currently available.

A must have!

Dick Stafford

D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living in Coventry.

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