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The Great Summit: The Complete Sessions
Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington
The Great Summit: The Complete Sessions
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #2

For starters, The Great Summit produced not only itself, both in a long-valued one-CD set and now this 2-CD Complete Sessions, but also a later summit, Count Basie and Duke Ellington's tandem showdown, First Time. On its o...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington
Title: The Great Summit: The Complete Sessions
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Blue Note Records
Original Release Date: 8/1/2000
Release Date: 8/1/2000
Album Type: Limited Edition, Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Swing Jazz, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime, Vocal Jazz, Orchestral Jazz, Oldies, Vocal Pop, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 724352454624, 0724352454655

For starters, The Great Summit produced not only itself, both in a long-valued one-CD set and now this 2-CD Complete Sessions, but also a later summit, Count Basie and Duke Ellington's tandem showdown, First Time. On its own, though, The Great Summit needs no later chapters to justify its celebrated standing in jazz annals. This was and is terrifically important music, Ellington in grand form between recording the Paris Blues soundtrack and cutting ace sessions like Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins and Duke Ellington & John Coltrane in late 1962. For his part, Armstrong was on leave, as well, resting up between ceaseless tours as a bona fide jazz superstar and veteran. So Ellington and Armstrong join hands, backed by the latter's band (Trummy Young on trombone, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Mort Herbert on bass, and Danny Barcelona on drums), tackling 17 of Duke's tunes. Armstrong's sweet, rolling vocal growl gives the tunes endless hugs, just as his band both cuts plump solos and then backs way off so Ellington can throw down alternately swinging and unapologetically modernist solos himself. What distinguishes this two-CD set from the originally issued, one-CD Complete Session is the second disc, The Making of the Great Summit. What's that worth? Well, it's a fan's dream, with studio chatter, with myriad false starts and several alternate complete takes ("In a Mellow Tone," "Duke's Place," and "Drop Me Off in Harlem"). Pure gold if you love Duke and Louis separately--unalloyed platinum if you love them (or just the thought of them) together. --Andrew Bartlett

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CD Reviews

Black and Tan Fantasy
Mark Tushan | 08/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Collaborations can be tricky things. Once in a great while two artists - people with no prior connection to each other and no plans of ever working together again, from different countries, cultures, generations - step into a studio and create magic. The place lights up, the combo gels, and a best-of-genre level record is produced. John Coltrain/Johnny Hartman, Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong, Getz/Gilberto, Sinatra/Jobim, Oscar Peterson with just about anyone.Other times what seems like a natural pairing leaves both parties looking worse than they did when they went in; check out "Dylan and the Dead" if you dare.And then there's sessions like Sinatra/Ellington or this one. Not great, by no means bad, not what they could have or should have been, and occasionally brilliant.While Armstrong and Ellington are the twin towers of the jazz landscape, they are very different temperments. Louis is Storyville, exhuberent, red hot. Duke is Harlem Renaissance, sophisticated, cool blue. They don't always fit together, and the rest of the players are left to take sides.The band is unfamiliar with the charts and Duke is unfamiliar with the band, so the composite rhythm section doesn't always click into place, and the tunes are somewhat under-rehearsed.BUT...When it works it really, really, really works. Black and Tan (the most New Orlean-sy sounding tune on the album) is remarkable, Beginning to See The Light makes you do just that, It Don't Mean A Thing is definitive, and I Got It Bad (And That's Not Good) may well be the best recording of anything ever.Also worth getting for the premiere of Azalea, Louis's rewritten words to Drop Me Off In Harlem, and of course that second disk where the whole thing takes shape."
One of the most indispensable jazz records.Buy it !!!!!!
JEAN-MARIE JUIF | BESANCON France | 07/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Don't miss it,this two CD set is one of the most indispensable purchase you have to do.There is some of the most talented,incredible,outstanding music here.This is the first real encounter between these two absolute giants,Louis and Duke,and also the last one,and jazz listeners had to wait until 1961 to hear this.Even if they met frequently since the thirties,they never really recorded together,and this time will be the last one (except for the soundtrack of the movie,"Paris blues").Before,they recorded a couple of tunes together ("Snafu"),but this is the ONLY album commited by these kings.Ellington was in a very rich period for five or six years (in fact,since Sam Woodyard took the drums chair;Sam's coming into Duke's band gave to this very somptuous orchestra the little something it needed).At the same time,Armstrong's career,after he recorded some inestimable albums in the fifties ("Satch plays Fats","plays W.C.Handy","the Good Book","a musical autobiography","Porgy and Bess"),Satch's career was going down slow,allways playing the same repertoire,and losing some of his greatest musicians.In fact,I think this is Louis Armstrong's testament,his last great record.No,this is not a great record;it's a terrific,outstanding,amazing moment of music,some of the greatest he ever blowed.My father owned this album,and I'm used to listen to it for more than 25 years.
The challenge was to make Duke Ellington meet Armstrong's band (Barcelonna,Kyle,Shaw,Young and Bigard,who spend many years in Duke's band,a long time before).The result is majestuous.Armstrong has allways been addicted to Duke's music,even if he rarely played his songs;and Duke has a rare opportunity to shine as a piano player (and he surely could !!!).
The first CD is made of master takes;it is almost impossible to make a choice between these 17 tunes.Louis' imperial talent shines from the first second to the last one.He plays with supreme majesty all through these tunes,and his voice may be at its highest level."I got it bad" is an indescriptible masterpiece;Louis plays some very simple phrases,and sings like nobody did;Duke's piano counterpoints are the essence of piano playing."Azalea" simply is one of the most magnificent tunes ever recorded,but we'll talk about it later."I'm just a lucky so and so" has some down home blues playing by Duke,and an infectious vocal part by Satch.Etc,etc.Each and every tune is at the same highest level.17 tunes,17 masterpieces;two LPs,or one CD,one of the ten records you HAVE to own.My only regret is that Duke couldn't go to the studio with is drummer,Sam Woodyard,who simply was one of the greatest drummers in the history of jazz.
The second CD includes tracks recorded during the rehearseals.And this is very interesting.It's terrific to hear how these guys could play a tune together.But the most interesting tune here is "Azalea".Just as Monk's unbelievable work on "'round midnight",issued on the CD version of "Thelonious himself":a study in progress.Duke wrote this piece in the late fourties,recorded it twice,and was never pleased with the result,because he wrote it with Armstrong in mind;now was the opportunity to have Louis playing this incredibly beautiful tune,and singing these improbable verses.And after a couple of false starts,and some vocal troubles,Louis manages to make this tune his own,and gave an immortal masterpiece.I mean,this is not a good tune,or a great one;this is one of the greatest masterpieces I ever heard in jazz.The version opf "black and tan fantasy" is magnificent,too,and here,Louis was confronted to Bubber Miley's version,recorded more than thirty years before,and which will never be surpassed.But Louis makes this tune his own,one more time,he doesn't use a plunger like Bubber did,and gives us a new conception of the tune.And what a majestic one !!!
This (or these,because they originally were issued on two separate Lps) record is an absolute must in every jazz lover's discotheque.It's one of the records I listen to very often (and I have some 6000 records at home);something unreal,some magical minutes in the musical career of two of the greatest kings of jazz,Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington."
Michael R. Lachance | Maine, USA | 08/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The BEST Jazz CD Set since "Ellington at Newport '56 [complete]" This is required music for any Ellington or Armstrong Fan. Armstrong's "All-Stars" really are impressive here. The best Non Ellington band ive herad play with Duke, ever. Trummy Young and Armstrong really do play some mean horn. Armstrong gives Duke lots of room to embellish (not something Ellington ever was fanatical about) and the whole set is a pleasure to listen to.SUPERB!"