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Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band
     

Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band

5.0 1
by Duke Ellington
 
Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band, covering the years 1939-1942 in the great composer and bandleader's career, is essentially the third time that RCA has issued this material on CD. The first was a botched job, appalling even, with its flattened-out, compressed sound, along with a chopped version of "Take the A-Train" and other sonic and editorial

Overview

Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band, covering the years 1939-1942 in the great composer and bandleader's career, is essentially the third time that RCA has issued this material on CD. The first was a botched job, appalling even, with its flattened-out, compressed sound, along with a chopped version of "Take the A-Train" and other sonic and editorial errors. The second version was completely remastered and corrected the editorial problems, but featured no alternate takes from the band's performances. Beyond the original 66 tracks, nine additional cuts are featured here, including four brand-new master-take issues of "Another Pitter Patter," "Body and Soul," "Sophisticated Lady," and "Mr. J.B. Blues," as well as alternate takes of "Ko-Ko," "Bojangles," "Sepia Panorama," "Jumpin' Punkins," and "Jump for Joy." All of this material is available on RCA's Complete Duke Ellington and in bits and pieces on imports, but these tracks make this set feel much more complete as a document of Ellington's greatest band. The interplay between Jimmy Blanton's bass, which stood completely out front with its fat, rounded tone -- a revolutionary thing in a big band in those days -- and Ben Webster's shimmering, soulful tenor on the alternate take of "Sepia Panorama," as well as the title track and Webster's signature tune, "Chelsea Bridge," are more remarkable with each listen. The sheer force of Blanton's playing moves the band to a whole different level of intensity, and the contrast between the tones of altoist Johnny Hodges and Webster is one of the most unique and complimentary in the history of jazz. If you are new to this set, it's a fine introduction, with performances of classics such as "Ko-Ko," "Harlem Air Shaft," "All Too Soon," "In a Mellotone," "Warm Valley," "Harlem Airshaft," "Take the 'A' Train," "I Got It Bad," "Five O'Clock Drag," "Perdido," "Bojangles," "The C Jam Blues," "Concerto for Cootie," "Cottontail," "Johnny Come Lately," "Sentimental Lady," and many others. The Blanton-Webster Band featured a great many soloists, including Cootie Williams, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart, and vocalist Herb Jeffries. In fact, the only shortcomings on this set are some of the vocals by other performers, but let's face it, there were few truly great jazz singers at the time, and this minor annoyance is easily overlooked. While it is easy to be cynical about the way classic recordings are repackaged and remastered as a way of getting enthusiasts to buy them again and again, this one is truly worth either an initial investment or reinvestment. It may have taken RCA three tries, but they finally got it right. The package is lovely, the notes updated, and the sound stellar. Along with the extra tracks, what more could you want?

Editorial Reviews

Billboard
Simply put, these are among jazz's timeless recordings, and they've never sounded better.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/01/2003
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0828765085724
catalogNumber:
50857

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Duke Ellington   Primary Artist,Piano,Celeste,Soloist,Group Member
Johnny Hodges   Clarinet,Reeds,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Soloist,Group Member
Ray Nance   Trumpet,Violin,Vocals,Soloist,Group Member
Rex Stewart   Cornet,Soloist,Group Member
Ben Webster   Reeds,Tenor Saxophone,Soloist,Group Member
Cootie Williams   Trumpet,Soloist,Group Member
Lawrence Brown   Trombone,Soloist
Herb Jeffries   Vocals,Soloist,Group Member
Ivie Anderson   Vocals,Soloist,Group Member
Jimmy Blanton   Bass,Soloist
Sonny Greer   Drums,Soloist,Group Member
Barney Bigard   Clarinet,Reeds,Tenor Saxophone,Soloist,Group Member
Harry Carney   Clarinet,Reeds,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Soloist,Group Member
Fred Guy   Guitar,Group Member
Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton   Trombone,Group Member
Billy Strayhorn   Piano,Celeste,Soloist,Group Member
Juan Tizol   Valve Trombone,Soloist,Group Member
Wallace Jones   Trumpet,Group Member
Otto Hardwick   Reeds,Alto Saxophone,Group Member
Chauncey Houghton   Clarinet,Reeds,Tenor Saxophone,Group Member
Lawrence D. Brown   Trombone,Group Member

Technical Credits

Mercer Ellington   Arranger,Composer
Rex Stewart   Composer
Ben Webster   Arranger,Composer
Irving Mills   Composer
Jimmy Mundy   Composer
Josef Myrow   Composer
Luther Henderson   Composer
Jimmy Blanton   Composer
Jerome Kern   Composer
Edmund Anderson   Composer
Barney Bigard   Composer
Ervin Drake   Composer
Dubin   Composer
Duke Ellington   Arranger,Composer
Milt Gabler   Composer
Kim Gannon   Composer
Johnny Green   Composer
Ted Grouya   Composer
Edward Heyman   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Orrin Keepnews   Producer,Reissue Producer
Steve Lasker   Producer,Reissue Producer
Jack Lawrence   Composer
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Bob Russell   Composer
Carl Sigman   Composer
Billy Strayhorn   Arranger,Composer
Juan Tizol   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
E.G. White   Composer
Jack Fulton   Composer
Brian Priestley   Liner Notes,Annotation
Ben Young   Compilation Supervisor
Paul McGrane   Composer
Robert Sour   Composer
Frank Eyton   Composer
Edgar Leslie   Composer
H.J. Lengsfelder   Composer
Neil Moret (Chas. N. Daniels)   Composer
Lee Gaines   Composer
Abner Silver   Composer
Charles B. Lawlor   Composer
Jack Scholl   Composer
Gladys Shelley   Composer
Buddy Pepper   Composer
Inez James   Composer
Joe Burke   Composer
Sid Kuller   Composer
Gene Irwin   Composer
M.K. Jerome   Composer
Jack O'Brien   Composer
Brian Priestly   Liner Notes,Annotation
Leslie   Composer

Customer Reviews

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Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Phil_K More than 1 year ago
Many jazz fans feel that these recordings represent the pinnacle of Ellington's musical achievement, with the brilliant stalwarts (Hodges, Carney, Greer, et al.) now joined by young bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor man Ben Webster. This incarnation of the Ellington band lasted only from 1940-42, but these three discs capture all the magic. The monaural sound may not be everyone's cup of tea, but once you get into the music, you won't notice the sonic limitations; and if Ivie Anderson's rendition of "Jump for Joy" doesn't get you out of your chair, it may be time to schedule a medical checkup.