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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Duke Ellington


Bluebird first editions 09026 63953 2

Upper midprice 

These three CDís offer nearly four hours of material, some of which has not been available before and has certainly never been available all at one time. It was made in the period 1965 to 1973; the Eastbourne Concert being recorded only monthís before the Duke passed on.

CD 1

The Eastbourne Concert Dec. 1973

  1. The Piano Player
  2. Creole Love Call
  3. Donít You Know I Care?
  4. I Canít Get Started
  5. New York, New York
  6. Pitter Panther Patter
  7. How High the Moon
  8. Basin Street Blues
  9. Tiger Rag
  10. Soso
  11. Meditation
  12. Mercuria, the Lion

The Pittsburgh Jazz Piano workshop June 1965

  1. Take the A Train
  2. Ellingtonís Fatherís Day Greeting
  3. House of Lords
  4. The Second Portrait of the Lion

The Newport Festival Announcement Party Feb 1968

  1. Sweet Fat and That
  2. Satin Doll
  3. Carolina Shout


The Duke at Tanglewood July 1965

  1. Ellington Speaks
  2. Caravan
  3. Ellington Speaks
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Ellington Speaks
  6. The Mooche
  7. Ellington Speaks
  8. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  9. Ellington Speaks
  10. Iím Beginning to See the Light
  11. Ellington speaks
  12. Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
  13. Ellington Speaks
  14. Sophisticated Lady
  15. Timon of Athens March
  16. Solitude
  17. I Got it Bad (and That Ainít Good)
  18. Satin Doll
  19. Love Scene
  20. Single Petal of a Rose
  21. Alternative takes:

  22. The Mooche
  23. The Mooche
  24. Love Scene
  25. Love Scene
  26. Iím Beginning to See the Light
  27. Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
  28. Satin Doll


The Readerís Digest Sessions Sept 1969

  1. La Dolce Vita
  2. Alfie
  3. Spanish flea
  4. Manha de Carnaval
  5. A Taste of Honey
  6. Summer samba
  7. Misty
  8. One Note Samba
  9. Soon Itís Going to Rain
  10. Mr Lucky
  11. Walking Happy
  12. Moon Maiden
  13. Alternative takes;

  14. La Dolce Vita
  15. Alfie
  16. A Taste of Honey
  17. Summer Samba
  18. One Note Samba
  19. Soon Itís Gonna Rain
  20. Soon Itís Gonna Rain
  21. Soon Itís Gonna Rain
  22. Moon Maiden
  23. Walking Happy
  24. Walking Happy
  25. Walking Happy

The Eastbourne Concert contains some interesting music and bearing in mind that it took place at the end of the last Ellington Band world tour, the band is very enthusiastic. The Concert starts with a feature for the Duke with master bassman Joe Benjamin and drummer Rocky White. It serves as a good reminder to us, as to just what a good jazz pianist he was.

Creole Love Call uses a small group with Harry Carney on bass clarinet, Russell Precope on Clarinet and Money Johnson on Trumpet. It is a fine performance of this Ellington classic. Harold Ashby is heard to good effect on Tenor on the Gershwin standard, I Canít Get Started. I had not previously realised what a melodic improviser he was. New York, New York is the Ellington song; not the one Sinatra had a hit with! Money Johnson does Basin Street in Armstrong style, which goes down well with the audience. Whilst looking backward, the Duke also responds to a request for Tiger Rag, which is performed in a somewhat chaotic, but amusing way. Soso gives tenor players Harold Ashby and Percy Marion a chance to Ďblow each other awayí, which they seize on to create some real excitement. The concert concludes with a drum solo on Mercuria, the Lion.

Tracks 13 to 16 feature The Duke, Earl Hines and Billy Taylor with Larry Gales on Bass and Ben Riley on Drums from the Thelonious Monk Band. The event in this case is a bit more interesting than the music, but many people I am sure do not realise what a good Ďstrideí piano player the Duke was. Like Oscar Petersen it was a strong part of the Dukeí armoury. This is heard again on the Newport session.

The Duke at Tanglewood recorded in 1965 features him as a soloist with The Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler. His own rhythm section, John Lamb bass, supports him and Louis Bellson drums. The jazz content on this disc is not high and only emerges when the Duke plays his part, but the arrangements by Richard Hayman and the playing of the orchestra demonstrate another aspect of his work, the adaptability of his compositions to different settings. I found the Dukeís commentary of great interest, as it gives an insight to the appropriate life and times of one of the most famous of jazz musicians and bandleaders.

The Readerís Digest Sessions took place in 1969 and were recorded over three days. This session is interesting because the band were playing arrangements of the popular tunes of the day, as opposed to their usual repertoire. Due to some very good arrangements from Luther Henderson, Wild Bill Davies, Ron Collier and the Duke, the jazz content is high and the session successful. The bandís soloists Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves and Harry Carney, all have adequate solo space. I particularly liked Paul Gonsalves on Summer Samba, Harry Carney on Misty and Johnny Hodges on Soon Itís Gonna Rain.

Ellington is at the very core of jazz music and this opportunity to hear some wonderful music that was not in the catalogue until this release, is too good to miss. Add to that the insight you get into the man himself makes this album a must.

Don Mather

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