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Early Ellington: Complete Brunswick Recordings
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians o... more »
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Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians or the Jungle Band. The earliest recordings are highlighted by the presence of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist "Tricky Sam" Nanton, whose brilliant work with plunger mutes for vocal effects did much to define the early sound--which, in turn, rapidly evolved and expanded with the additions of Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams. While the band's repertoire included many blues and popular songs, its distinctive identity emerges from early renditions of such trademark pieces as "East St. Louis Toodle-O," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "The Mooche," and "Mood Indigo." By the end of the period covered in this set, Ellington's ambitious later suites--some of them CD-length--are portended in the elegant extended composition "Creole Rhapsody," his clearly superior contribution to the symphonic jazz movement. --Stuart Broomer
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Wonderful music wonderfully reproduced
Lee C. Grady | Madison, WI USA | 03/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well I guess there's a wide range of tastes when it comes to remastered 78-era recordings. I have thousands of recordings from this era and if I had to pick one of the best remastering jobs it would be this set (incidentally, if I had to pick one of the worst it would be the Sony/Columbia "Okeh recordings" set praised by another reviewer!). The set was remastered by Stephen Lasker, one of the best in the business in my opinion. Surface hiss is audible, but that's the price to pay for having music that retains its full range and dynamics. Most of the recordings I have heard that have had this hiss removed sound flat and sometimes even muffled (again, the Sony/Columbia "Okeh recordings" set sounds particularly lifeless). However, I'm willing to concede that this is a matter of taste. As for the music, it is truly wonderful - some of the best of Duke Ellington's early work."
ESSENTIAL ELLINGTON - GOOD SOUND!!
J. Greif | Canada | 04/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't be scared off by the negative reviews. YES, there is a good deal of surface noise. But it's removal doesn't necessarily mean that it would be an improvement. Although I am not knowledgable about sound engineering, I do know that there is considerable debate about the merits of excess noise reduction and/or digital removal of surface noise. It is not perfect. A good deal of the original sound, particularly of the higher frequencies can be lost. That said, I love discs by PAST PERFECT and other fine labels who go to great lengths to remove surface noise. But there is no consensus as to this being an ideal solution to reproducing old 78s.
That said, this CD of "Early Ellington" sounds fantastic to my ears, surface nosie or not. In fact, there is some variance in the amount of surface noise. Some tracks sound quite clean, and I certainly prefer hearing the original recording without excess sound reduction that takes much of the 'life' out of these old discs.
This is an absolutely essential purchase of some of Ellington's greatest sides (particularly as there is no other comprehensive cd of this material available that I am aware of). It also comes with a very informative and attractive booklet.
Buy it while it is still available!"
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 03/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Washingtonians made some forgettable acoustic horn recordings in the mid 1920s. With the advent of electrical sound in 1925, some personnel changes and larger numbers, Edward Ellington's orchestra really came into their own. The set EARLY ELLINGTON is evidence of that musical flowering. The 67 tracks here were (with one exception) all taken from 78 source material. Fifteen are transcriptions of metal parts, the rest being test and commercial pressings.
Track #1, "East St. Louis Toodle-o," was the band's theme song until 1940. Two versions are presented (the earlier has more surface noise). As to the issue of record condition, there is hiss present, but no persistent clicks from scratches, and little lathe. This is to be expected when mastering from pre-used 78s of such venerable age. To have dampened the sound with a mask of filtering would have destroyed the dynamics of the performances, in this reviewer's estimation.
Other Ellington standards, like "The Mooche," "Black & Tan Fantasy" and "Mood Indigo" saw their first exposure to the record buying public with the BRUNSWICK sides on this set. The opening theme of "Six Or Seven Times" would one day become the coda to "Take The 'A' Train." Another interesting couple of tracks are on disc two. "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Doin' The New Lowdown" feature Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and these two comprise the first ever record to include tap-dancing. The 78 was also a big seller in 1929. "Sweet Mama," another song waxed at that session but rejected by BRUNSWICK'S Jack Kapp, is finally given it's due here. Also included are tunes that were part of musical revues at the Cotton Club. Galas like "Cotton Club Showboat" and "Hot Chocolates" were orchestrated by Ellington during his band's two year tenure at that famous Harlem nightclub.
A nicely detailed 56-page book chronicles Duke's early history, and provides lots of other data. The compact case that houses the book and three CDs is a plus. Altogether, this superb collection is one that's vital to all Ellington fans, lovers of hot dance music and early jazz bands. Highest recommendation.
TOTAL RUNNING TIMES --
DISC ONE -- 66:00
DISC TWO -- 66:30
DISC THREE -- 69:22"