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Live and Rare
     

Live and Rare

by Duke Ellington
 
This handsomely packaged three-CD set from Bluebird collects nearly four hours of rare performances, both curiosities and treasures, from the prolific final decade of Duke Ellington’s life. There’s enough fresh, fascinating, and downright brilliant material here to guarantee that any self-respecting Ellingtonian will want to hunker down with this set for at least a

Overview

This handsomely packaged three-CD set from Bluebird collects nearly four hours of rare performances, both curiosities and treasures, from the prolific final decade of Duke Ellington’s life. There’s enough fresh, fascinating, and downright brilliant material here to guarantee that any self-respecting Ellingtonian will want to hunker down with this set for at least a week before calling up his friends to say, “You’ve got to hear this….” The first disc is dominated by the Duke’s solo piano work and puts to death once again the old canard about the great man’s “limited” technique. The disc opens with one of the Duke’s very last live dates, recorded in Eastbourne, England, in December 1973. The band is in fine form, with elegant versions of favorites like “Creole Love Call,” “Don’t You Know I Care?,” and “I Can’t Get Started” certainly worth preserving. But it is on Duke’s solos, accompanied by Joe Benjamin on bass and Rocky White on drums, that he’s playing for eternity. One moment of genius arrives at the end of the program, when Duke plays “Meditation,” a shimmering statement of serenity from the Third Sacred Concert. The first disc also contains four cuts from a piano workshop at the 1965 Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, including a remarkable blues duet between Duke and Earl Hines, with each pianist playing in a different stereo channel. There are even three solo tracks taped at a private party in 1968, including Duke soloing through “Satin Doll” while Willie “The Lion” Smith listens in. Disc 2 intersperses rare Ellington interview material with live recordings of Duke playing his classic compositions accompanied by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The arrangements, by Richard Hayman, may be over the top, but the sound of Duke’s crisp, swinging piano over all that orchestral muscle is finally mesmerizing, especially on masterpieces like “Mood Indigo,” “Single Petal of a Rose,” and “The Mooche.” The third disc returns to print an exclusive Reader’s Digest recording from 1969 of the Ellington band swinging its way through arrangements of contemporary pop music. The material is occasionally cheesy -- “Spanish Flea” and “A Taste of Honey” -- but the band sounds fantastic, with Johnny Hodges and Cootie Williams and the rest of the resident geniuses tearing into this stuff like they were born to play it. The verdict? If this set is for you, you’ve probably ordered it before reading this far. Happy listening. Ellington was one old man who did not go quietly into the night -- and what a joyous noise he made.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ken Dryden
Many of this three-CD set's tracks are available elsewhere, excepting three previously unreleased performances from the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival announcement party, long-unavailable recordings made specifically for Reader's Digest (plus some unreleased alternate takes), as well as unissued rehearsals for the bandleader's guest appearance with Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops. The press party is a noisy affair and the recording quality is hardly polished, as the crowd can't seem to shut up during Ellington's rollicking "Sweet Fat and That," "Satin Doll," and "Carolina Shout" (erroneously credited to Ellington instead of James P. Johnson), which is suddenly broken off by the pianist, who seems to be a tad rusty. The Eastbourne tracks represent the band in its decline; although veterans Harry Carney and Russell Procope were still around, the lack of many other star soloists is noticeable, and although there are some excellent musicians present (Johnny Coles, Harold Ashby, and Harold Minerve, to name a few), the band is clearly running out of steam. The music from the 1965 Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, featuring Ellington in a duet with Earl Hines, a solo performance, and one song with a rhythm section, has been reissued more than once. The Reader's Digest sessions are rather conservative, trying not to overwhelm the neophyte jazz fans the magazine was likely targeting; the music is pleasant with some good solos, but rather bland compared to typical Ellington dates. The Tanglewood concert with Fiedler is enjoyable, though the decision to intersperse excerpts of Ellington's prerecorded responses to a promotional interview between songs is a bit odd, with the bandleader actually digressing into talking about his weight problem. Put it all together and you have a set that may appeal to the die-hard Ellington collector, though it is hardly essential for most jazz fans.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/11/2002
Label:
Rca
UPC:
0090266395323
catalogNumber:
63953

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Duke Ellington   Primary Artist,Piano
Arthur Fiedler   Conductor
Cat Anderson   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Louie Bellson   Drums
Johnny Coles   Trumpet
Mercer Ellington   Trumpet
Larry Gales   Bass
Paul Gonsalves   Tenor Saxophone
Earl Hines   Piano
Johnny Hodges   Alto Saxophone
Julian Priester   Trombone
Cootie Williams   Trumpet
Harold Ashby   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Lawrence Brown   Trombone
Willie Cook   Trumpet
Rufus "Speedy" Jones   Drums
Wild Bill Davis   Organ
Russell Procope   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Luther Henderson   Piano
Chuck Connors   Bass Trombone
Norris Turney   Flute,Alto Saxophone
Ben Riley   Drums
Art Baron   Trombone
Lee Barrie   Trumpet
Joe Benjamin   Bass
Harry Carney   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Victor Gaskin   Electric Bass
Bennie Green   Trombone
Money Johnson   Trumpet,Vocals
Paul Kondziela   Bass
John Lamb   Bass
Steve Little   Bongos
Lloyd Michels   Trumpet
Vincent Prudente   Trombone
Harold "Geezil" Minerve   Flute,Alto Saxophone
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra   Track Performer
Rocky White   Drums
Anita Moore   Vocals

Technical Credits

Nino Rota   Composer
Erroll Garner   Composer
Thad Jones   Composer
Eddie Edwards   Composer
Nick LaRocca   Composer
George Wein   Producer
Wild Bill Davis   Arranger
Richard Hayman   Arranger
Luther Henderson   Arranger
John Kander   Composer
Ed Begley   Engineer
Johnny Burke   Composer
Sammy Cahn   Composer
Ron Collier   Arranger
Stanley Dance   Liner Notes
Peter Dellheim   Producer
Antonio Carlos Jobim   Composer
Orrin Keepnews   Producer
Barney Keville   Engineer
Brad McCuen   Producer
Henry W. Ragas   Composer
Tony Sbarbaro   Composer
Bobby Scott   Composer
Larry Shields   Composer
Marcos Valle   Composer
James Van Heusen   Composer
Ben Young   Producer,Liner Notes,Reissue Producer
Joshua Sherman   Executive Producer
Ric Marlow   Composer
Harry Da Costa   Composer
Paulo Sérgio Valle   Composer
Dino Verde   Composer
Marshall Barer   Composer

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