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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


The music of Duke Ellington played by the
At The Royal Festival Hall

WARNER DVD 5046755422



  1. Introduction
  2. Black & Tan Fantasy
  3. Take the A Train
  4. Stompy Jones
  5. Adelaide Hall & Joanne Horton

The Queen’s Suite

6. Intro. To Sunset and the Mocking Bird
7. Sunset and the Mocking Bird
8. Introduction to Lightning Bugs and Frogs
9. Lightning Bugs and Frogs
10. Introduction to Le Sucrier Velours
11. Le Sucrier Velours
12. Introduction to Northern Lights
13. Northern Lights
14. Introduction to Single Petal of a Rose
15. Single Petal of a Rose
16. Introduction to Apes & Peacocks
17. Apes & Peacocks
18. Chelsea Bridge (Wrongly called The Mooch on the sleeve)
19. Mood Indigo
20. Diminuendo & Crescendo in Blue
21. Credits
Recorded at the Festival Hall, London on January 23, 1989
Bobby Orr -Drums
Jim Douglas - Guitar
Les Skeet - Bass
Mark Shane - Piano
Antti Sarpila - Alto
Bob Wilber - Alto & Clarinet
Tony Coe - Tenor & Clarinet
Alan Cohen - Tenor & Clarinet
Ronnie Ross - Baritone & Clarinet
Mark Nightingale - Trombone
Rik Edwards - Trombone
Chris Pyne - Trombone & Valve Trombone
Alan Downey - Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes - Trumpet
Colin Smith - Trumpet
Paul Shelby - Trumpet
Adelaide Hall - Vocal
Joanne Horton - Narrator

It seems a shame that it took so long for this DVD to be released, perhaps it was previously available as a Video. Bob Wilber’s Euro-Ellington Band was really something. A friend who was at the Concert tells me it was a stunning affair and this is born out on the DVD. All the soloists are top class and everyone has something to say, the section work is also good and the whole band is worthy of the wonderful music of Duke Ellington. It is probably only possible for a musician of the calibre of Bob Wilber to put together an orchestra that sounds so polished, for a one off concert.

To get a measure of Bob Wilber’s abilities it should be noted that Benny Goodman who regarded himself as the best, had a very high regard for Bob Wilber’s playing on both Clarinet & Alto.

This was the first public airing of the Queen’s Suite which the Duke had written after meeting the Queen. A recording of it had been made, but only one pressing had been made and this had been sent to Her Majesty. The presence of the Princess Royal at the Concert helped to give the Royal atmosphere.

The combination of new music with Ellington favourites makes for a most excellent programme and I enjoyed every moment of the performance. Ellington’s music is sophisticated and demanding on the musicians who play it, but it never leaves the listener in doubt that ‘The Duke’s’ roots are essentially in jazz. He in partnership with Billy Strayhorn took jazz to a new level of excellence.

Joanne Horton is an excellent narrator and during the Suite her quotations from the Ellington autobiography, "Music is My Business" further enhance the performance.

All the soloists catch the essentials of the Ellington scores, which is remarkable and it is almost impossible to say that any one is better than another. The favourite track for me was Mood Indigo, the theme statement with Tony Coe, Colin Smith and Rik Edwards was tender and played to perfection. This track also contained some fine clarinet from Bob Wilber.

When it came to Diminuendo & Crescendo, Tony Coe is one of a very short list of Tenor players who could carry off the Gonsalves solo!

This is an excellent DVD, my recommendation is ‘buy it’

Just one sad note, quite a few of the musicians on this DVD are no longer with us and in some cases no logical replacement has appeared. All the more reason to treasure it.

Don Mather

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