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The Far East Suite Special Mix
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Much of Duke Ellington's work is tough to get your head around, but perhaps none more so than this ambitious and appropriately exotic 1966 recording. Inspired by a 1963 State Department tour of the Middle East and a subseq... more »
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Much of Duke Ellington's work is tough to get your head around, but perhaps none more so than this ambitious and appropriately exotic 1966 recording. Inspired by a 1963 State Department tour of the Middle East and a subsequent visit to Japan, this Ellington-Billy Strayhorn collaboration deftly blends not only the music of the East but the mindset of the East with established jazz concepts. "Tourist Point of View" is an unsettled number handled cautiously by tenor Paul Gonsalves. Alto Johnny Hodges dances gingerly and exquisitely on eggshells during the beautiful "Isfahan" (first take!) before crushing those eggshells on "Blue Pepper," one of the Duke's funkiest cuts ever. Jimmy Hamilton's whirling clarinet leads the sprite dance number "Depk," while Harry Carney's stately baritone distinguishes "Agra." The urgent "Amad" is fueled by Ellington's forceful keyboard statements before "Ad Lib on Nippon" offers Duke the rare opportunity to stretch out. The four alternate takes and absolutely sterling remix make the CD reissue an inspired musical and sonic package. --Marc Greilsamer
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Member CD Reviews
Danna C. (MBWhite)
Reviewed on 11/12/2010...
Strayhorn and Ellington and their very finest. Damn! This is good.
Just Another Masterpiece
Michael J. Connor | Waltham, MA USA | 07/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oscar Peterson tells a story about Duke Ellington. At the end of an JATP performance Ellington and Peterson were on stage. The piano had not yet been packed away so Ellington asked Peterson to play something. Peterson sat down and played a song, and after he finished he turned to Ellington and asked something like "don't you know this song? You wrote it." (It was Ellington's "Lady of the Lavender Mist.") Ellington shrugged and replied that he wasn't interested in what he wrote before. He was only interested in what he was going to write next. Though "The Far East Suite" was recorded between December 19, and December 21, 1966 it was assembled from songs written by Strayhorn and Ellington between 1963 and 1966.
ELF (a Strayhorn song) was first recorded on July 18, 1963 which was before the State Department tour in the autumn of 1963. See The Private Collection Volume 4 for that version. It was retitled Isfahan after the State Department tour in the autumn of 1963. At first it was not considered part of the Impressions of the Far East, as it was performed seperately from those four other pieces during the winter and spring of 1964. After the recordings on this disk Ellington performed just once more in concert on January 30, 1968.Impressions of the Far East debuted on February 15, 1964. There are four song in this first impression, Amad, Agra, Bluebird of Delhi, and Depk. (Agra and Bluebird of Delhi are Strayhorn compositions) These songs were performed as a unit in this order through out the spring of 1964, and they were recorded in the studio on March 17 and 19, 1965, but as far as I can tell those recordings remain unissued.
The two versions of Amad here on this CD are the last two Ellington performed. Agra was not performed again. Same for Depk. After these two versions of Bluebird of Delhi on this disk, the song was performed only three more times. Blue Pepper was recorded on December 21, 1966, and that's it. Ellington put it up on the shelf, never to perform it again.
Mount Harissa debuted on November 29, 1966 and was performed by Ellington during the spring of 1967. There is a live version on "The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World." It's a great feature for Paul Gonsalves.
Tourist Point of View exists in two versions that were recorded on December 19, 1966, and that's it. Ellington put it up on the shelf, and never performed it again. Too bad--it's a great feature for Paul Gonsalves.
Ad Lib on Nippon has four parts, Part 1 (a slow piano solo) , Igoo (up tempo piano followed by the band), Part 3 (a different slow piano solo) and Tokyo. The first three parts feature Ellington and the fourth part features Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet. It was first performed in June 1964 in Japan and was a frequent feature of Ellington's concerts in 1964 and 1965. It was first recorded in the studio in March 1965 (See Private Collection Volume 10 for that version) while Ellington was under contract to Reprise. The one on this CD is his last performance. It also went up on the shelf. For me, the fact that Ellington DID NOT perform these songs much in concert after they were recorded in December 1966 is the strangest part. Maybe I written too much about the performance histories of these songs. Still even with all Ellington had done before, and even with these songs, he wasn't satisfied. He moved on. He was interested in something else, something new. That's the real greatness of Duke Ellington. Nielsen's Jazz Records Volume 6, and van de Leur's Something To Live For were consulted for this review."
The Height Of Ellington's Evolution
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Probably the most treasured of my Ellington recordings, this is the weapon I throw on when converting ears more accustomed to fifties and sixties era jazz artists. Although fronting a big band (or THE big band), the genius of Ellington and Strayhorn's arrangements sound completely modern. Soloists stand out on every track, from Hodges sublime sax showcase on 'Isfahan" to Ellington's under-rated piano on "Ad Lib on Nippon." Every listening uncovers something new and when you're talking about a highlight of Ellington's catalog, you're talking about a highlight of the history of recorded music. Essential; children should have this cd slipped into their cradles in every hospital in the world."