Blues in Orbit

Blues in Orbit

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by Duke Ellington
     
 

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Blues in Orbit lacks the intellectual cachet of the suites and concept pieces that loomed large in Ellington's recordings of this period, but it's an album worth tracking down, if only to hear the band run through a lighter side of its sound -- indeed, it captures the essence of a late-night recording date that was as much a loose jam as a formal studio date,See more details below

Overview

Blues in Orbit lacks the intellectual cachet of the suites and concept pieces that loomed large in Ellington's recordings of this period, but it's an album worth tracking down, if only to hear the band run through a lighter side of its sound -- indeed, it captures the essence of a late-night recording date that was as much a loose jam as a formal studio date, balancing the spontaneity of the former and the technical polish of the latter. Ellington and company were just back from a European tour when the bulk of this album was recorded, at one after-midnight session in New York on December 2, 1959, to arrangements that had to be hastily written out when the copyist failed to appear for the gig. So on the one hand, the band was kicking back with these shorter pieces; on the other, the group was also improvising freely and intensely at various points. The title-track, recorded more than a year before most of the rest, is a slow blues that puts Ellington's piano into a call-and-response setting with the horns, with Ellington getting in the last word. "Villes Ville Is the Place, Man" is a bracing, beat-driven jaunt, highlighted by solos featuring Ray Nance, Harry Carney, and Johnny Hodges on trumpet, baritone sax, and alto, respectively. "Three J's Blues" shows off composer Jimmy Hamilton playing some earthy tenor sax in a swinging, exuberant blues setting. "Smada" features Billy Strayhorn on piano and Johnny Hodges on alto, in a stirring dance number. "Pie Eye's Blues" is a hot studio improvisation featuring Ray Nance and Jimmy Hamilton trading three solos each, while Ellington's piano and the rest of the band try their emphatic best to get in a word or two. Nance shows up on violin as part of a string of soloists (including Matthew Gee, Paul Gonsalves, Bootie Wood, and Jimmy Hamilton) for "C Jam Blues," whose four minutes' running time affords the group a chance to jam without overdoing it, or extending matters past the breaking point. Wood is the featured player on muted trombone on the slow, smooth "Sweet and Pungent." A pair of more reflective, less extroverted numbers show off the more subtle side of the band, the slow, downbeat "Blues in Blueprint," with Jimmy Woode's bass and Harry Carney's bass clarinet as the major featured players, with Strayhorn sitting in on piano and Ellington snapping his fingers; and "Swingers Get the Blues, Too," featuring Matthew Gee on baritone horn. The finale, "The Swinger's Jump," does just that, with Ellington, Hodges, Nance, Gee, Hamilton (on tenor and clarinet), Wood, and Johnson romping and stomping all over the basic riff. The CD edition of Blues in Orbit offered a trio of tracks off the same sessions when the album came -- the bracing "Track 360," an unpretentious jazz band's impression of a train ride; and the soaring, lovely "Brown Penny," a number originally written for Ellington's attempted interracial musical Beggar's Holiday 13 years earlier; and the moody, reflective "Sentimental Lady," both featuring Johnny Hodges very prominently. Blues in Orbit was issued on CD by Columbia records in 1988 in a good-sounding edition, then reissued by Mobile Fidelity in 1999 in a gold-plated audiophile CD with Super-Audio CD encoding. Both were out of print as of early 2002, and either is worth owning.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/25/1990
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0074644405125
catalogNumber:
44051

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Blues in Orbit  - Duke Ellington
  2. Track 360  - Duke Ellington
  3. Villes Ville Is the Place, Man  - Duke Ellington
  4. Brown Penny  - Duke Ellington
  5. Three J's Blues  - Duke Ellington
  6. Smada  - Duke Ellington
  7. Pie Eye's Blues  - Duke Ellington
  8. C Jam Blues  - Duke Ellington
  9. Sweet & Pungent  - Duke Ellington
  10. In a Mellow Tone  - Duke Ellington
  11. Sentimental Lady  - Duke Ellington
  12. Blues in Blueprint  - Duke Ellington
  13. The Swingers Get the Blues, Too  - Duke Ellington
  14. The Swinger's Jump  - Duke Ellington

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Duke Ellington   Primary Artist,Piano
Cat Anderson   Trumpet
Paul Gonsalves   Reeds
Johnny Hodges   Reeds,Alto Saxophone
Ray Nance   Trumpet,Violin
Shorty Baker   Trumpet
Matthew Gee   Trombone,Baritone Horn
Jimmy Woode   Bass
Russell Procope   Reeds
Quentin Jackson   Trombone
Britt Woodman   Trombone
Harry Carney   Reeds,Baritone Saxophone
Clark Terry   Trumpet
Bill Graham   Reeds
Jimmy Hamilton   Reeds
John Sanders   Trombone
Billy Strayhorn   Piano
Michael Booty Wood   Trombone
Sam Woodyard   Drums
Edward Kennedy Ellington   Indexed Contributor

Technical Credits

Stanley Dance   Liner Notes
Duke Ellington   Composer
Larry Keyes   Remixing
John Latouche   Composer
Teo Macero   Producer
Billy Strayhorn   Composer
Irving Townsend   Producer
Allen Weinberg   Cover Design

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