Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Classic Ellington before the A Train arrived
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The songs on this disc are from 1938, when Duke and the orchestra were famous, but just before Billy Strayhorn came to the band. What you get on this disc are some true classic Ellington songs and also some "commercial" recordings. Forget about the commercial stuff, you'll figure out which ones they are and concentrate on the gems. The first 3 cuts ...Swing Society, Prologue to, and The New Black and Tan Fantasy are awesome, especially the 2 revised versions of Black and Tan Fantasy. The next 3 tunes just move along so effortlessly, featuring the bands soloists in laid-back arrangements. On to Echoes of Harlem that features Cootie Williams. Cootie is terrific, actually on this entire disc he sounds especially great. Riding on a Blue Note (what a great title) just carries you along with a fantastic beat. However, the Gal From Joe's, to me is the best track. For on it Johnny Hodges gives a performance that is so satisfying. He " talks" to the brass section in a series of wah-wah dialogues that transitions into a smooth flowing swing melody. And its Hodges again in I let A Song Go Out Of My Heart . But this time he talks to Carney and the inter-play between them is just the greatest. On Jeeps Blues, Hodges again shows why he was the premier soloist with the orchestra. Overall the arrangements sound very relaxed, like the band was really enjoying themselves. Of special interest is Hodges playing the soprano sax on a number of tracks. Although he started on the soprano, as you all know, he made the alto his horn of choice. When listening to these 1938 recordings its also interesting to hear the lack of a Strayhorn arrangement. These seem simpler, more blues oriented, and more prone to soloists as opposed to the whole orchestra achieving an effect."