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Tears of Joy
     

Tears of Joy

5.0 1
by Don Ellis
 
Recorded in 1971, Tears of Joy is a Don Ellis classic. The sheer musical strength of this ensemble is pretty much unparalleled in his career. The trumpeter/leader had backed off -- a bit -- from some of his outlandish and beautifully excessive use of strange and unconventional time signatures, though there is no lack of pioneering experimentalism in tone, color

Overview

Recorded in 1971, Tears of Joy is a Don Ellis classic. The sheer musical strength of this ensemble is pretty much unparalleled in his career. The trumpeter/leader had backed off -- a bit -- from some of his outlandish and beautifully excessive use of strange and unconventional time signatures, though there is no lack of pioneering experimentalism in tone, color, arrangement, or style. This double LP/CD features a string quartet, a brass octet (four trumpets, tuba, bass trombone, trombone, and French horn), four winds, and a rhythm section boasting two drummers, a percussionist, a bassist, and the Bulgarian jazz piano wizard Milcho Leviev. This is a sprawling album. Disc one is made up of short- to mid-length pieces, the most notable of which are the intense adrenaline surge of "5/4 Getaway" (with a killer string arrangement by Hank Levy, one of three arrangers on this set) and the blazing Eastern European klezmer meets Bulgarian wedding music meets hard bop blues of "Bulgarian Bulge." Leviev's solo on the latter comes right out of the knotty, full-on bore of the tune's melody (written by Ellis, who scored all but three selections), and cites everyone from Wynton Kelly to Scott Joplin to Mal Waldron. Elsewhere, such as on "Quiet Longing," the strings are utilized as the base and texture of color. One can hear Gil Evans' influence here, and in the restrained tenderness of this short work one can also hear Ellis' profound lyricism in his flügelhorn solo. The second disc's first moment, "How's This for Openers?," is a knotty composition that touches on bolero, Aaron Copland, and operatic overture. Levy's "Samba Bajada" is a swinging opus that uses tropes from early Deodato in his bossa years, Sergio Mendes, and Jobim, and weaves them through with an elegant, punchy sense of hard bop and the American theater. On the 17-plus minute "Strawberry Soup" (with a vocal quartet in the background), Ellis gets to show what his band is capable of in its different formations. Full of both subtle and garish colors, timbral grace and vulgarity, elegant and roughly hewn textures, and a controlled yet wildly divergent set of dynamics, this tune is one of the most adventurous and most brilliantly composed, arranged, and executed works to come out of the modern big band literature. It is virtually a big-band concerto. Ultimately, Tears of Joy stands as a singular achievement in a career full of them by a musical auteur whose creativity seemingly knew few if any bounds.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/18/2005
Label:
Wounded Bird Records
UPC:
0664140092723
catalogNumber:
927

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Don Ellis   Primary Artist,Trumpet,Drums,Flugelhorn
Milcho Leviev   Piano,Keyboards
Bruce Mackay   Trumpet
Doug Bixby   Trombone,Tuba,Contrabass Trombone
Jon Clarke   Woodwind
Ralph Humphrey   Drums
Lee Pastora   Conga
Jim Sawyers   Trombone
Lonnie Shetter   Woodwind
Fred Selden   Woodwind
Kenneth Nelson   French Horn
Paul G. Bogosian   Trumpet
Jack Caudill   Trumpet
Earle Correy   Violin
Ron Dunn   Drums
Alfredo Ebat   Violin
Sam Falzone   Woodwind
Ken Sawhill   Bass Trombone
Ellen Smith   Viola
Chris Ermacoff   Cello
Dennis Parker   Bass

Technical Credits

Don Ellis   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Marianne Eckstein   Cover Art
Hank Levy   Arranger,Composer
Roy Segal   Engineer
Fred Selden   Arranger
Sam Falzone   Arranger

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Tears of Joy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite. I'm so glad to see it out on CD, after waiting, what, two decades? Don Ellis is a master of emotion as he leads this postmodern big band through complex swing, amusing homages and the simple sorrow of "Loss." This is the only music I can think of that can have me laughing and crying in the span of 20 minutes. His rich, evocative style was just beginning to be used in films ("The French Connection," most notably) when he died. Way too young. This double set is pure genius, and I'm grateful that I don't have to worry about wearing out another hard-to-find vinyl version.