Duke Ellington is featured in a complete performance at Basin Street East in New York City on this CD, as it was originally broadcast on WNEW, complete with his verbal exchanges with host William B. Williams. Unlike many of his concerts, there is no long medley of hits; instead, Ellington offers an interesting mix of old and new songs. The newer material includes his "gutbucket bolero," known as "Afro Bossa" (also titled "Bula"), featuring the gruff, muted trumpet of Cootie Williams, and the high-note theatrics of Cat Anderson. "Silk Lace" is a brisk rhumba featuring clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, while the band (except for the rhythm section) sits out Ellington's masterful ballad "A Single Petal of a Rose." The time-tested favorites include a romp through the inevitable medley of "Kinda Dukish" and "Rockin' in Rhythm," the elegant "Sophisticated Lady" showcasing the lush baritone sax of Harry Carney, an abbreviated "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," featuring tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves' wailing solo. Billy Strayhorn takes over the piano to sing and play "Lush Life," though feedback mars the early part of his performance. The liner notes consist of a terrific article written by former sideman Rex Stewart for Downbeat. Ellington is rather good-natured about handling Williams' (at times) idiotic commentary. The sound is better than most broadcasts, so Ellington collectors will want to look for this CD.
Share this page