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At Carnegie Hall: December 11, 1943

At Carnegie Hall: December 11, 1943

by Duke EllingtonDuke Ellington


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Jazz concert recordings of the early 1940s are particularly prized by collectors, not only because it was one of the most vital and important periods in the music's history, but because the American Federation of Musicians, the union to which most musicians in New York belonged, enforced a studio recording ban between August 1942 and December 1944. Given the fluidity with which many big bands changed personnel, the recording ban meant that many classic lineups went undocumented in studios during this two-year-plus period, making the handful of low-fidelity live recordings particularly valuable to jazz historians. Duke Ellington was particularly ill-served by the recording ban, as the prolific bandleader/composer was in the middle of one of his most fruitful periods at the time. This recording of Ellington's second appearance at Carnegie Hall (the first had been on January 23rd of the same year) shows his orchestra focusing primarily on excellent takes of Ellington's legendary early songs, including a magnificent version of the then-current hit "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," with a sweetly trilling opening solo by trombonist Lawrence Brown and one of Al Hibbler's least mannered vocals. The concert also features a sterling version of one of Ellington's earliest extended compositions, 1929's "Black and Tan Fantasy," and two sets of extracts from arguably his first full-length masterpiece, the tone poem "Black, Brown and Beige." The first, a swinging sketch of the "Brown" section known as "The West Indian Influence," features some propulsive group blowing from the entire reed section over Sonny Greer's almost tribal drums; the second, "The Lighter Attitude," is an inspired set of contrasts, with Rex Stewart's bright cornet in counterpoint with a bluesy pair of muted trumpets. Although, in his introduction, Ellington apologizes for not presenting the short pieces in their full context, they make perfect melodic sense on their own, and don't sound like the fragments they are. Inevitably, the sound quality of this disc is not up to modern standards, but judicious noise reduction has made it much fuller and more robust than many live recordings of the era, and of course, the historical and musical value of this concert outweighs its flaws.

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Product Details

Release Date: 08/29/2012
Label: Essential Media Mod
UPC: 0894231338229
catalogNumber: 5077407
Rank: 100348

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