Friday, 06 October 2017

A Tribute to Duke Ellington, Vol. 2

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  • Published on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 10:16
  • Written by Super User
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Hi Ya Su - 4.42 
In a Sentimental Mood - 2.28 
Black and Tan Fantasy - 5.53 
I'm Satisfied - 3.52 
Something to Live For - 3.27 
Mood Indigo - 4.43 
Black Butterfly - 4.11 
What am I Here For? - 5.47 
East St. Louis Toodle-Oo - 4.57 
C Jam Blues - 6.06 
I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good - 7.16 
Rockin' in Rhythm - 8.04 
 


Ray Nance and Paul Gonsalves make a great partnership for their salute to their boss. Nance had left Duke Ellington’s band not long after the return of Cootie Williams in 1962, the trumpeter he had to replace 22 years earlier when Cootie went to work with Benny Goodman, though he made intermittent guest appearances with Duke through 1973. Gonsalves, well-know for his twenty-seven chorus tenor saxophone solo at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival had a long tenure with Ellington, arriving in 1950 and still on hand for the pianist’s final concert in 1974. “Hy’a, Sue” is an obscure blues from the late 1940s that was periodically revisited by Ellington. This snappy swinger features the famous sidemen with pianist Raymond Fol (who once toured Europe with a group of Ellington all-stars led by Johnny Hodges), bassist Al Hall and drummer Oliver Jackson. Nance was present for its debut and appears on most, if not all, known recordings to exist. Gonsalves was hardly unfamiliar with it, since he was on hand for almost as many versions. After the head, Fol takes a brief jaunty solo, followed by Nance’s gritty choruses and the always-expressive Gonsalves, as the piece works its way to a swinging conclusion. Art Tatum had great respect for Ellington and recorded “In a Sentimental Mood” a number of times for transcription services and in the studio. His rapid-fire arpeggios and brilliant improvisations continue to amaze jazz fans today, like this circa 1938-1939 take for Standard Transcriptions. The dramatic “Black and Tan Fantasy” was penned in the late 1920s and this 1963 version by British bandleader and trombonist Chris Barber pays great respect to Ellington’s early recordings of it. Vocalist Helen Humes is joined by tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate and pianist Earl Hines for a boisterous rendition of “I’m Satisfied,” a forgotten gem written for Ellington vocalist Ivie Anderson, recorded in 1933 and never again played. Humes’ big voice carries the day in this triumphant concert performance at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival. Many jazz fans forget that Andre Previn was already working professionally as a jazz pianist in his teens. His thoughtful solo piano take of “Something to Live For” was recorded at the age of sixteen, already showing his budding talent as an arranger and improviser. “Moody Indigo” is interpreted by a group of British musicians, including clarinetist Dave Shepherd, tenor saxophonist Danny Moss, cornetist Freddy Randall and pianist Brian Lemon, none of whom became household names in North America, though they more than do justice to their traditional setting of this standard, adding a tasty bass solo by Kenny Baldock. Two more Brits, trumpeter Digby Fairweather and pianist Fred Hunt, do justice to “Black Butterfly,” offering a graceful yet swinging treatment of this neglected ballad, with Fairweather first soloing with a mute, then on open horn. Paul Gonsalves returns for a 1970 meeting with Earl Hines, with both men playing intricate variations on “What Am I Her For,” backed by bassist Al Hall and the great drummer Jo Jones. Another excerpt from a British all-star session showcases trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton and trombonist Roy Williams playing another dramatic early Ellington composition, “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” highlighted by Lyttleton’s conversational muted solo in the tradition of Bubber Miley and later Cootie Williams. Alto saxophonist and bluesman Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson shines fronting a European band at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival, playing a gritty take of “C Jam Blues.” On the same day, pianist Sir Roland Hanna recorded a superb solo piano set, from which this elegant rendition of “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” in which the audible squeak of the pedal adds extra meaning to the performance. “Rockin’ in Rhythm” blends old and new styles in a live version recorded by reedman Terry Lightfoot in 1977 in Leipzig.

 
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