Stick With the 1995 Reissue
dwood78 | Long Beach, CA USA | 02/17/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I couldn't wait to get this disc, only to be disappointed. The only collaboration recording from Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins gets butchered in this reissue. First of all, the bonus track "Solitude" is MIA. Also, while I like the digipak that it comes in, that's about all that comes with this disc; no new liner notes, & the essay that came with the original LP are so small that you can't read them. It's a shame, because the music on this disc is very good. But it's take more just digitally remastering an LP to get me to buy a classic jazz CD.
Like I said earlier, this is great music but skip this and get Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins, the 1995 reissue."
Sometimes it helps to be innocent (but not ignorant)
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 03/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I suspect the previous reviewer is right about the superiority of the 1995 edition of this priceless session. It's clear that Verve has elected not to spend an unnecessary dime on this latest reissue. The release is no more than an attempt to churn profits. As was pointed out, it practically insults the purchaser by reprinting the original liner notes in a fuzzy, minuscule, illegible font. (Certainly, the manufacturers could have stuck a folded insert in the cardboard case. Presently, a Spanish distributor--Absolute Records--is putting domestic jazz reissues, as scarce as they are, to shame.)
But the fault is also the American public's, or rather its ignorance, indifference, apathy, misplaced priorities. (It's as if jazz disappeared from American consciousness immediately following Ken Burns' PBS mini-series 7-8 years ago, though the willingness of the public to pony up ten or more bucks for a mere collection of downloaded files is also playing into the hands of the music capitalists.) In any case, I'm so delighted to have a piece of this session--in any shape or form--that I couldn't award it fewer than 5 stars even if it were an Edison cylinder).
This is not the stiffly iconic meeting that took place between Duke and Coltrane (a quickie session that's ironically become Duke's best-selling album). Yes, it's loose, consisting of head charts and riffs, but the music is still executed with tightness and precision not to mention plenty of TLC, while allowing ample solo room not just for Hawk but the Ellington principals--Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, Ray Nance. Only Harry Carney keeps his place within the ensemble, providing little in the way of soloing but placing his stamp on the inimitable Ellington sound. In fact, the recording is a distillation of the Ellington band--the sublime reed section (minus Russell Procope and Paul Gonsalves, whose place is taken by Hawkins) and a prominent "tonal personality" from the trombone and trumpet sections.
It's a pleasure to hear the versatile Ray Nance stretch out on trumpet to this degree, demonstrating he belongs in the same company as players like Rex Stewart, Sweets Edison, and even Roy Eldridge. And on each of the tunes Hawkins emerges logically yet subtly from the mix, as though he's as much a member of the ensemble as a guest soloist on the date. On "The Jeep Is Jumpin'" he finishes his solo but, after Lawrence Brown practically tops him with an especially spirited turn, decides to come back for another turn, more heated, driving and authoritative the second time around. Throughout, Duke's piano accompaniment is the stamp of authenticity, transforming the simple into the sublime.
For a change, Rudy Van Gelder gets the mix right--no boosted bass or cymbals (at times, Hawk's mic is a trifle "hot," overshadowing the ensemble textures). His capturing of the ensemble on "Mood Indigo" is nuanced and sensitive, the best balance I've ever heard on a Van Gelder-engineered date.
Perhaps we've been spoiled. Sony-Columbia spent tens of thousands of dollars and hours to come up with a miraculous restoration of "Ellington at Newport '56" (a remarkable, stunning feat of research and digital technology when it comes to music CDs). But if no one buys heroic saves such as this and there are no tax subsidies in sight, what's the point? And for a while the single biggest bargain on Amazon was "Duke Ellington: Three Suites" (works of sheer Ellington-Strayhorn genius, the projects that Ellington lived for, the royalties from his pop tunes enabling him to support both his composing and the band, or "repertory company," essential to pulling off his concert works). I'm not sure if a copy is still in print let alone available for less than ten bucks. If it is, better grab it now (along with "Ellington at Newport" and "Such Sweet Thunder") before it suffers the same fate as "A Drum Is a Woman" (she split from our midst a long time ago)."
Swinging CD from the Duke and the Hawk
Roger Berlind | NY, USA | 02/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I already owned quite a few CDs from Duke Ellington and several from Coleman Hawkins at the time I purchased this collaboration that they recorded in 1962. I'm glad I finally bought this one too since it is a wonderful, swinging encounter between two giants of jazz joined by six members of the Duke's band performing 8 Ellington songs. Prominent solos are given to Hawkins, Ray Nance (trumpet and violin), Lawrence Brown (trombone), and Johnny Hodges (alto sax).
My review is of the 2007 "Originals" re-issue on the Impulse label. I'll have more to say about that later, but for now I'll just note that this version is missing the bonus track "Solitude" which was on the 1995 reissue.
Of the 8 songs that are on the 2007 disc, my favorite is the opening calypso, "Limbo Jazz" which features hilarious vocalizing by the extremely relaxed drummer Sam Woodyard. The liner notes indicate that Woodyard and the rest of the band might not have known that their performance was even being recorded. Another nice touch on this track is that Hawkins joins the performance more than half way through as if he had just walked into the studio unexpectedly.
The second track, "Mood Indigo", is a classic Ellington ballad and is probably the loveliest track on this issue. Hawkins is featured in an extended solo. "Ray Charles' Place" is a funkier number with a multi-layered arrangement which shines the spotlight on most of the musicians at least once. Even Duke takes a solo. "Wanderlust" and "The Jeep is Jumpin'" are old Ellington tunes that go back at least as far as 1938. The first is a slow tune with charming solos. The second is a faster tune with plenty of energy. Before taking us for a drive in his Jeep, Ellington leads the band in "You Dirty Dog" and "Self Portrait (Of the Bean)". (Bean is another nickname for Hawkins.) These were also new songs, but they fit right in with the old classics. Of course, the second of these stars Hawkins. The band finishes with another new song written for this session, "The Ricitic", which features Hawkins and Nance (on violin) drifting above a Latin rhythm laid down by the rhythm section.
I indicated I would say more about this 2007 edition. Frankly, it baffles me why Universal Music Group thinks lovers of this great music would rather have less music that that which is available just so UMG can stick the "Originals" tag on the front of the package. I was annoyed to learn (after buying this edition) that I could have purchased a version with one more song. In the future, I won't buy any of these Impulse "Originals" discs unless I verify that they are not missing any bonus tracks released on earlier versions. Despite the problem with this edition, I still gave it 5 stars since I believe that the musicians should not be penalized for the mistakes made by the record companies. Even without the 9th track, this is still a 5 star CD."