Ellington Saxophone Encounters

Ellington Saxophone Encounters

by Mark Masters
     
 

Ellington Saxophone Encounters was conceived by arranger Mark Masters and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan as a tribute to the giants among the bandleader's sax section, choosing material recorded by both Ellington and by his saxophonists on their own record dates, with most songs having been recorded onlySee more details below

Overview

Ellington Saxophone Encounters was conceived by arranger Mark Masters and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan as a tribute to the giants among the bandleader's sax section, choosing material recorded by both Ellington and by his saxophonists on their own record dates, with most songs having been recorded only infrequently. "Rockin' in Rhythm" is the oldest piece, debuting in 1931 and still in the book when Ellington finally had to retire from performing shortly before his death in 1974. Smulyan was the prominent soloist, with Bill Cunliffe taking a brief interlude at the piano and Pete Christlieb adding a bluesy touch on tenor sax. "Jeep's Blues" is an Ellington-Hodges collaboration which premiered in the '30s and was a staple in the Ellington repertoire even after the saxophonist's death in 1970. Though Hodges initially soloed on soprano sax for its 1936 premiere recording, he abandoned the instrument in 1940. This version puts the spotlight exclusively on Smulyan's gritty baritone as the band provides a bluesy backdrop. Lesser known is "Esquire Swank," part of the three-movement "Magazine Suite" debuted during a 1945 Treasury broadcast. This hip riff, credited to Hodges and Ellington, was only briefly in the repertoire; this setting showcases Smulyan, Cunliffe, Christlieb, and drummer Joe La Barbera (on brushes). Most of the remaining songs come from the sidemen's small group dates. Paul Gonsalves is mainly known for his famous 27-chorus solo at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, but his "The Happening" is a terrific blowing vehicle based on "I Got Rhythm" changes. This version features both Smulyan and alto saxophonist Gary Foster. Ben Webster's moving "Love's Away" is from a 1954 record, with Christlieb not trying to duplicate his unique tenor sound while at the same time retaining the song's longing mood, followed by Cunliffe's laid-back solo, though Masters' chart briefly shifts into a swinging tempo. Jimmy Hamilton was a lyrical clarinetist and raunchy tenor saxophonist in Ellington's band, his snappy blues "Get Ready," recorded for a 1960 Hodges album but not issued for almost two decades, features Don Shelton excelling in the composer's clarinet role. With so many Duke Ellington tributes available that focus exclusively on the most familiar repertoire, it is refreshing to see an arranger like Mark Masters digging deep into the hidden contributions by the men who made up the pianist's landmark orchestra.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/21/2012
Label:
Capri Records
UPC:
0054987411823
Rank:
280056

Tracks

  1. Esquire Swank  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  2. The Line Up  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  3. Lawrence Brown Blues  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  4. We're In Love Again  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  5. Ultra Blue  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  6. Used To Be Duke  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  7. Jeep's Blues  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  8. Get Ready  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  9. Love's Away  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  10. Rockin' In Rhythm  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  11. The Peaches Are Better Down The Road  -  Mark Masters Ensemble
  12. The Happening  -  Mark Masters Ensemble

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