Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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Jomo Ray | Newark NJ | 11/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You likely won't believe I bought this CD - the equivalent of a double-album set - essentially for one cut. It's true, though - it was that leap of faith, that willing chance that you take at the prospect of reconnecting with a long lost but unforgotten love. And, for my money, it proved more than worth it.The first thing that marks this CD as special, something different - look closely! - is that none of the tunes is "Ellington music." You'll notice familiar titles, yes ("Tuxedo Junction," "Ciribiribin," "Sentimental Journey," "Auld Lang Syne"), but none of these has ever been associated with the Ellington band. And that's the key to, and point of, this monumental set.Superbly remastered from a handful of 1961-62 recording sessions (originally issued as two separate albums), RECOLLECTIONS OF THE BIG BAND ERA is a wonderfully evocative, dazzlingly executed homage to musical styles and giants of that decades-long time when dance bands ruled American pop culture. But, because this is Ellington, there's always something more - something classy, something creative, something challenging, and all issuing out of mutual love and respect. It's not ephemeral as the sound of one hand clapping, but there is a certain sly edge here of a one-sided cutting contest.In his autobiography, GOOD MORNING, BLUES, Count Basie, another estimable big band leader himself, makes some half dozen awed references to Duke Ellington and his orchestra. ("The maestro ... Duke was the boss as long as he lived ... Ellington played a different kind of music, a special kind of music ... He played music that you could always listen to ...") And he notes that because Duke's band was so tight, swung so deceptively smooth, rival bandleaders might sometimes take restraint for sloth."Sometimes I've heard people saying, 'Duke ain't playing nothing tonight,'" Basie said, "and I always tell them he just don't want to get anybody yet.... Because when you try to take advantage of a situation like that, you're asking for it. Because when he comes back up there on the stand, the red-hot number you worked up to so you could bring the house down, will be the one that he'll use as his warm-up number! And he will play it for you as if to say, 'Oh, is this the tune you mean?' Or he can play your theme song with so much stuff in it that you don't want to touch it anymore that night.... Sometimes he's just holding his musicians back.... I know what he could drop on you, and if he put any of his really heavy stuff on you, damn if you could play your own things as well as you usually could, because instead of hearing yourself, you'd be up there hearing him."That's the heart of the five-star attraction of this CD, the affectionate tribute in dedicating these songs to the musical greats recognized for them. The echelon's varied as Harry James and Quincy Jones--Whiteman, Herman, Guy Lombardo, the Dorsey brothers--including anthems such as Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" and Louis Armstrong's "When It's Sleepytime Down South." Ellington's covering the waterfront of American big band icons. This is also one of his vintage ensembles, featuring legendary soloists (Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, Russell Procope, Lawrence Brown, Cat Anderson and Cootie Williams) and arrangers (such as Billy Strayhorn). They're making music to move you, whether you want to jitterbug or two-step, slow drag or just pat your feet.A note about the "bonus tracks": These eleven cuts were originally issued as the album WILL BIG BANDS EVER COME BACK? - a part of my parents' (veritable children of the swing era) collection I played so much I knew it by heart - out of print since the 60s. (The only track omitted here is the Ellington band covering itself on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore.") Here's where you'll hear the band really cut loose: Check out, for instance, the closer, a swingingly symphonic version of Gershwin's classic, "Rhapsody in Blue."However, my particular favorites are the climactic "One O'Clock Jump" (where you can see what Basie was talking about as the band gleefully romps through his own theme song; listen closely and you hear horn & brass sections "holdin' church," trading riffs in the call & response style of a spirit-swept preacher and testifyin' congregation) and, especially, Stan Kenton's "Artistry in Rhythm." The song title, just incidentally, says it all - what this CD is about, what makes it worthwhile - even as it features an ecstatic duet arcing over a shuffling drum-beat, like a smitten pulsebeat, between erstwhile trumpeter Ray Nance on violin and Cootie Williams on muted trumpet. Their exchange is like a conversation between lovers so poignant, so intimate, it spurs you to tears of joy or pain. This is the song, the performance, I remembered for more than half my life. That willing chance paid off, and if you're interested, I believe it will for you, too."
The world's greatest band salutes its colleagues !!!
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 11/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My,my,my!!! Looks like big bands are here again !!! These extraordinary sessions were recorded between 1962 and 1963 by Duke and his band,and they salute 23 different big bands.Duke's orchestra is driven by the extraordinary drumming of Sam Woodyard (1925-1988),who was simply one of the greatest drummers in the history of jazz.As a big band drummer,Sam was simply as great as Jo Jones.And even if I was lucky enough to become a friend of Sam,in the last years of his life,when he was in Paris,I'm still amazed by the way he drives the band.How could such a small,even fragile man,play with such strength ,how could he make the band swing with such an authority ??? If you want to know what I mean,just listen to "One o'clock jump",and you'll discover some of the most incredible drumming of all times.
As I said before,each tune of this CD is dedicated to a specific band."Minnie the moocher",of course,is dedicated to Cab Calloway;"Tuxedo junction",to Erskine Hawkins;"One o'clock",to Basie;"Christopher Columbus" to Fletcher Henderson;"For dancers only",to Jimmie Lunceford....I think it's the only record made by Duke,in which he doesn't play one of his tunes.Of course,the band is here,with all of its stars: Cat Anderson,Cootie Williams,Ray Nance,Lawrence Brown,Russell Procope,Johnny Hodges,Paul Gonsalves,Harry Carney,Jimmy Hamilton.And even if the repertoire is astonishing,the result is perfect.Johnny Hodges' solo on "Goodbye" is another incredible marvel by this genius ."One o'clock jump" is one of the best versions ever recorded;etc,etc.The most interesting here is to discover Duke's band playing an unusual repertoire,which celebrates confreres by long forgotten,like the Casa Loma Orchestra,Charlie Barnet or Les Brown.All the tunes were arranged by Duke,except five,arranged by Strayhorn,Sy Oliver,Eddie Barefield or Dick Vance.A very atypical record in Duke's career,and surely an essential one."
Ellington at Top Form
Billyjack D'Urberville | USA | 03/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the vast body of music left behind by the late great Duke, there are highs and lows, indeed mountains and -- if never quite deserts -- some rather vast, dry spots. This is one of the high peaks --helped by the majestic late life view of a master looking back, and a big heart.
The Duke here plays the "signature songs" of all of the era's major big bands with verve and drive as if they were his own, as if he were still 40 and in hot contention to earn his place. Yet with a mellow golden edge and the patina of age. Further, as a late recording, it has the advantage of full stereo sound, very clean but also warm. Indeed, thankfully, the Duke laid these tracks down before the frigid promises of the All Digital World took over -- like few other recordings, this album will reveal what has been lost in that particular revolution, whatever the many gains.
For anyone who loves either jazz or American music, this is an essential part of your collection. Nobody did it better, and nobody else now will.