Duke Ellington - Masterpieces by Ellington - 180g Vinyl LP

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180g Audiophile Vinyl Mono LP

Remastered By Ray Staff at Air Mastering

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra consisting of Billy Strayhorn, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves and more, perform four selections including "Mood Indigo" and "Sophisticated Lady".

"When Ellington went into the studio in 1950 to record the longer tracks on this LP, his orchestra was a bridge between its late-1940's configuration (the 5-man trumpet section) and its mid-1950's personnel. The sax section had settled into the form it would have for most of the ensuing two decades (old-timers Hodges and Carney and newcomers Procope, Hamilton and Gonsalves); the trombone section had long-timer Lawrence Brown as well as Tyree Glenn and newcomer Quentin Jackson; and the drummer was still Sonny Greer, who had anchored the rhythm section since the beginning. Greer would retire at the end of the year, Hodges would defect for two years, Brown and Glenn would leave; Louis Bellson and Cat Anderson would join up and Ellington would begin to re-form. Ellington's orchestra from 1953 on would be a great, swinging and sensitive one, but it would not make the same lush sound that this one did.

"The arrangements and orchestrations all bear the hallmarks of Ellington's collaboration with Billy Strayhorn in the late 1940's: they are lush, symphonic, impressionistic, and densely (and adventurously) harmonic. "Mood Indigo", in particular, is a 15-minute tone-poem with shifting colors and key relationships as Ellington and Strayhorn bring the melody through a wide variety of guises, from Glenn's wah-wah trombone solo to Shorty Baker's lyrical waltz to orchestral and piano passages which do homage to the influence which Ravel and Stravinsky had on both of them. Great solos abound here and on the other tracks, most notably from Hodges, Brown, Hamilton, Gonsalves, Carney, trumpeters Baker and Ray Nance, and (most probably) Billy Strayhorn on piano, especially in "Mood Indigo"

"'The Tattooed Bride' is the only new piece from the original "Masterpieces by Ellington" LP, and it is a beauty. The others of the original tracks -- "Sophisticated Lady" and "Solitude" -- are not laid out as inventively in their harmonics or structure. Of the group, "Solitude" is perhaps the weakest, but this is a relative term. Ellington would go on to pen many more extended, symphonic works, but none would have quite the multicolored, impressionistic tone-palate that these do. And Strayhorn's presence would not be as pronounced in those future works as it is here: the orchestration and harmonies in particular bear his mark. These are masterpieces indeed: great works of art by two of our greatest composers/orchestrators, and played by one of the greatest orchestras in Afro-American music." - Andrew R.

 

AllmusicGuide:

Amazingly, it took Columbia Records until the very end of 1950, two years into the LP era and the transition from disc to magnetic tape recording, to get Duke Ellington and His Orchestra into the studio to cut a long-playing record. For the first time in his recording career, Ellington was able to forego the three-minutes-and-change restrictions in running time of the 78 rpm disc -- he and the band rose to the occasion with extended (11-minute-plus) "uncut concert arrangements" of "Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady," and "Solitude," augmented with one splendid newer work, "The Tattooed Bride."

The band sounds like it's in the same room with the listener, and that goes double for the piano and the soloists (including singer Yvonne Lanauze) on "Mood Indigo." Even in this august company, "The Tattooed Bride" is a swinging virtuoso piece that, as everyone present must have known, couldn't possibly have been captured in this manner in any era before this session -- this was also one of the last sessions to feature the classic Ellington lineup with Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, and Sonny Greer, before their exodus altered the band's sound, and so it's a doubly precious piece (as is the whole album), among the last written specifically for this lineup.

Bruce Eder ~ AllMusicGuide

(5060149622445)

SKU 5060149622445
Barcode # 5060149622445
Brand Columbia / Pure Pleasure Records

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