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Duke Ellington Orchestra: Big Bands Live (19.0067) [Vinyl LP 180g]

0.45 KGS

    19.0067 was a year of triumph, with the outstanding Cootie Williams, whose solo trumpet can be heard in The Shepherd, back on board, but it was also tinged with sadness at the death of Billy Strayhorn just a few weeks after the Stuttgart concert. Ellington wrote his masterpiece And His Mother Called Him Bill that same year in memory of his alter ego. Throwing caution to the wind and refusing to rely solely on time-served hits, Duke and his 14 musicians launch themselves into the new adventure. In his autobiography Boy meets Horn, trumpeter Rex Stewart describes how he first had to fight for his place in Ellington's band. With each musician having annotated his own part, they told Rex in no uncertain terms they would not be sharing parts and he would have to find some notes of his own. Stewart compares Ellington to an iceberg – people, even those close to him, only ever saw the tip of his true greatness. 

    For Ellington, two subjects were off limits: illness and death. For this reason he refused to make a will to the last, fearful of tempting fate and provoking his own demise. He was able to maintain his orchestra (“the most important thing in my life”) with the millions he earned from Tempo, his music publishing company – always conscious of the need to surround himself with individualists; some players stayed with him for decades, and whenever one of them was tempted to embark on a solo career, Duke would always ask him: "Why don't you come home?" After his comeback in Newport in 19.0056, he spent almost 50 weeks a year on the road, the studio sessions mapping out the hectic itinerary. He would often still be composing as the recording engineer’s red light came on. Ellington released some 35 albums between 19.0060 and 19.0067 alone, including the Far East Suite and the Sacred Concerts, adaptations of classical works. What a luxury it must have been to compose music through the night and be able to hear it the next day. 

    The unique sound of the orchestra has been wonderfully captured by the recording engineers, aided by the Liederhalle acoustic, and the entire programme is a stylistic tour d'horizon through all phases of the band's history over four decades. Johnny Come Latelybreaks the ice, before Russell Procope plumbs the depths of the clarinet's lower register to conjure up the sound of the jungle in Swamp Goo. Paul Gonsalves' tenor saxophone then dances its way through Knob Hill and is followed by La Plus Belle Africaine, the opening track of the 19.0066 album Soul Call (Verve Records), which sees the rhythm section shine with some lively articulation from bass player John Lamb. Harry Carney's baritone subsequently brings things up close and personal in A Chromatic Love Affair. The band's performance at Carnegie Hall three weeks later provided part of the album The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever(Pablo Records), a truly fitting title. For the restless Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, the wheel of time had turned once more. 

    Catalogue No.: 101722 

    1 Take The “A” Train
    2 Johnny Come Lately
    3 Swamp Goo
    4 Knob Hill
    5 Eggo            
    6 La Plus Belle Africaine
    7 A Chromatic Love Affair
    8 The Shepherd
    Vinyl LP

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