Duke Ellington

New Orleans Suite

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This late-period Duke Ellington album is perhaps most notable for including altoist Johnny Hodges' final recordings. In fact, Hodges was supposed to record his first soprano solo in nearly 30 years on "Portrait of Sidney Bechet," but he passed away before the second session. The set consists of the five-song "New Orleans Suite" plus tributes to Wellman Braud, Bechet (tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves took Hodges' place as its soloist), Louis Armstrong (a feature for trumpeter Cootie Williams), and Mahalia Jackson. Interesting if not essential music with a few memorable themes being the main reason to acquire this release.

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