Blues in Orbit

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
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: 074644405125
  • Catalog Number: 44051

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Blues in Orbit (2:25)
  2. 2 Track 360 (2:03)
  3. 3 Villes Ville Is the Place, Man (2:31)
  4. 4 Brown Penny (3:00)
  5. 5 Three J's Blues (2:51)
  6. 6 Smada (2:36)
  7. 7 Pie Eye's Blues (4:50)
  8. 8 C Jam Blues (4:50)
  9. 9 Sweet & Pungent (4:01)
  10. 10 In a Mellow Tone (2:40)
  11. 11 Sentimental Lady (3:58)
  12. 12 Blues in Blueprint (3:37)
  13. 13 The Swingers Get the Blues, Too (3:08)
  14. 14 The Swinger's Jump (3:51)
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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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