Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington|
Cote D'Azur Concerts On Verve
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
This eight-CD set is a sleek affair, packaged in a plain-Jane, silver-ribbed box with just a peephole in the center. The peephole, though, looks in on the fluorescent jewel cases, each of which faithfully reproduces fantas... more »
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This eight-CD set is a sleek affair, packaged in a plain-Jane, silver-ribbed box with just a peephole in the center. The peephole, though, looks in on the fluorescent jewel cases, each of which faithfully reproduces fantastic Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald sets from July 1966 at France's Cote d'Azur. The Ellington tunes show his orchestra in long form, taking multiple sets (with some tune repetition across the CDs) and thriving in Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's tightly scripted ensemble sections. This is some fairly standard Ellington for the era, with hard-flying solos from Paul Gonsalves and myriad others. What's great is the ability to really dig in to the band, hear it work, set after set, on the tunes and the polyphonic interplay of the ensemble's sections. And then there's the eighth CD, which presents a band rehearsal with Ellington doing what drove some mad: humming sections to instruct the band, calling out key changes quickly and sounding altogether like a practitioner of an oral tradition in musical pedagogy. It's awesome to hear him and the band, banter and all. Then there are the Ella Fitzgerald sets, which are possibly the better portion here. Fitzgerald sounds mightily driven, sometimes almost boundary breaking in her execution. Vocally, she's both tight and loose, brimming with turns of phrase and belting lyrics with popping exactness. The dates caught on this box aren't regarded as the greatest for either of the marquee artists, but in terms of the sheer quality of music and their fullness of vision, Fitzgerald's tunes vie with anything else she did in her career. Sure, many of the tunes are fast and jumping, but their propulsion is largely thanks to Fitzgerald's heightened sense of play. The spiral-bound booklet accompanying this box set is a treat, with all its pop-art slyness and off-the-cuff frankness. --Andrew Bartlett
An absolute must
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 11/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1984,I was reading a french jazz magazine,and saw an article about Sam Woodyard;they say he was very sick,without money,and they were searching for people to help.I answered;then,one day,being in Paris,I called Sam,just to come home and talk with him.He agreed,and we became friends.He was 60,I was 19,and I became a friend of one of my truelegends of jazz,one of the greatest big band drummers with the king,Jo Jones.I spent hours at his home,Boulevard Montparnasse,and at the hospital when he was very sick;and he told me everything from his years with Duke.He had an immense respect for the Duke,and treasured his years with him.A this time,just before his death (he died Sept.20,1988),I only had two lps on VERVE from these Cote d'Azur concerts.Now,you can listen to hours of music,including the marvelous tracks with Ben Webster and Ella.This is an absolute must for every Duke's fan,for evry jazz lover.And if you like Sam's drumming,this is the "cerise sur le gateau",a french sentence meaning "the cherry on the cake",the absolute must.We have the chance,in this reissue,to listen to a rehearsal of Duke's band,and this is amazing;listen to the way the band discover "the old circus train";I wish I could get accustomed to a tune the way they were."
Gee, I'm the first?
Sean Keasling | 02/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Playing favorites among recordings with so much good material out there is pointless. Still, if you were stranded on a desert isle and could take only two releases with you, what might they be? Myself? I'd choose Miles Davis: The Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel 1965, and Ella Fitzgerald And Duke Ellington: Cote D'Azur Concerts.With very few exceptions, I find big-bands and their arrangements tedious and uninspired. My bias shouldn't be a surprise, since I have an affinity for extended improvisational small-band styles of the '50s and '60s. But the imagination, layered textures and execution of Ellington's work is absolutely fascinating. Magic.Duke Ellington is a relatively new discovery for this listener. Although Ellington/Strayhorn compositions are staples of many bands, it was Fred Hess's cover of "Such Sweet Thunder" that piqued my curiosity. Happily, this live set delivers this and other pieces from the Thunder suite (including "Half The Fun," another infectious gem that stays between the ears long after I've listened to it). Pure magic.Two minor quibbles. First; "Goin' Out Of My Head," one of the Fitzgerald features, is hopelessly dated and corny. Ella's preface, "something from the new generation," doesn't help the song go down any easier. Second; liberties are taken with repeated renditions of some songs, but overall the band seems locked into a particular reading of any given tune. Of course, the corollary to this point is the Davis set I referred to earlier. Davis plays with song structure to such a degree that his renditions sacrifice their individual identity. This is one reason why I find the Davis and Ellington sets so complimaentary to one another.Someone, I forgot who, said the nature of jazz music transcends poor recording and playback devices. I do not entirely agree. This set was recorded before a live audience in '66, under less than ideal conditions. Despite the limitations of the day, the sound quality is surprisitnly good-- credit must go to those who recorded and re-mastered this set-- exhibiting clean high-end dynamics and rich low-end detail. What sonic imperfections there are, oddly enough, tend to aid the presentation rather than distract: Occasionally a solo instrument is slightly off-mic creating an unusual audio mix. The effect is unexpectedly fresh and pleasing.Now, I'd wager your desert isle choices are different than mine. Music is so subjective. My top picks would be different too, had I not heard this Ellington set."
Worth every penny!
Sean Keasling | Kansas | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A few months ago I decided to invest in the complete Cote D'Azur concerts. It has been worth every penny. If you like Duke Ellington, this is a great batch of his music. You get to hear Johnny Hodges play "Things ain't what they used to be." Also you get to hear the mindblowing tenor work of Paul Gonsalves like of "Diminuendo in Blue and Blow by Blow." But the main reason I bought this CD is because I am a big Ella fan. Her performance of "Cotton Tail" is UNBELIEVABLE! Also she sings one of her trademarks, "Mack the Knife". This box set is worth every penny and gets my highest recommendation."