Ellington Concert Classic
Richard C. Ferris | Rochester, NY | 03/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD contains two separate concerts recorded at the Chicago Civic Opera on Jan.20 and Nov.10, 1946. During this period, Duke Ellington was primarily focused on creating and performing extended musical arrangements. He still maintained a touring schedule to support the orchestra but his artistic interest rested with concert hall performances. Prime examples, were the Carnegie Hall concerts conducted annually from 1943 through 1947. Among Ellington aficionados, these recorded concerts are greatly prized as Duke's musical journey into more serious jazz compositions. Listening to the Carnegie Hall concerts is a mixed blessing of "what was" and "what could have been". On one hand, the combination of Ellington standards with the newly created extended suites is inspiring but the sound quality leaves much to be desired. Criticism has also been leveled at the extended introductions to each composition and the lengthy audience applause following each number. Regardless of the perceived shortcomings, these albums/CDs were treasured as the only live recordings representing Ellington's 40s era concert presentations.
Now, with the release of the Great Concert at the Chicago Civic Opera, listeners have a representation of the 40s concerts presented in a greatly enhanced audio experience. The sound quality is superior to any live Ellington recording of this period. The credit for this belongs to John Steiner's use of overhead mics to record the concert. Also deserving recognition is Larry Appelbaum for remastering the original acetate recordings. Further enhancements have been achieved by editing out the spoken word introductions and by modifying the audience applause.
Combined, the two concerts extend to 140.55 minutes and comprise 36 compositions. All but one of these numbers is limited to five minutes or less. The one exception is" Come Sunday, Work Song", from the Black, Brown and Beige suite which extends to 11.46 minutes
The performing musicians are all legends. A partial list includes, Cat Anderson, Ray Nance, Johnny Hodges, Al Sears, Harry Carney, Oscar Pettiford and Sonny Greer. A special bonus is the addition of Django Reinhardt playing lead guitar on four tracks from the Nov. 10 date. This marks the only time Ellington and Reinhardt were recorded performing together.
The liner notes, which provide a comprehensive background on each selection, are authored by Stanley Dance. The project was produced with dedication and passion by Mercer Ellington.
Highly recommended for all who appreciate the music of Duke Ellington.
Music from the '30 &'40
William W. Duncan | Denver, CO USA | 02/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At that time I was in high school and college "Swing" was the rage as was dancing. Duke Ellington did not get the noteriety of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw because of Color at that time. It was a pleasure to get this CD and compare it with the other Swing bands of the time. The Duke was great as this CD proves.