Duke Ellington

This Is Jazz, Vol. 36: Plays Standards

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This 13-song, mid-priced compilation covers material dating from "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," cut on March 8, 1935 to "Mood Indigo" from March 31, 1964. The contents include concert versions of "Take the 'A' Train" and "Satin Doll" from the All-Star Road Band releases; the 1940-vintage "Stormy Weather" (previously in print on the double-album Duke Ellington Presents Ivie Anderson); "Autumn Leaves" with Ozzie Bailey on vocals; a pair of cuts ("St. Louis Blues," "Body and Soul") off the otherwise unavailable Cosmic Scene LP, and "I Can't Get Started" from the until-recently unavailable Piano in the Foreground album. The idea was to select the repertory of standards associated with various Ellington bands (from a 29-year period, no less) that one would have wanted performed had they turned up under one roof at one time, and the result is a kind of greatest-hits CD with a real edge. The live rendition of "Take the 'A' Train" would be worthwhile even without Ray Nance's delightful scatted vocal in the second half, and Johnny Hodges' solo lights up the live "On the Sunny Side of the Street," while "St. Louis Blues" boasts fine solos by Ellington, Clark Terry, Jimmy Hamilton, and, especially, Paul Gonsalves. "Body and Soul" is only a jumping-off point for a Gonsalves solo that includes quotes from "Drum Boogie," pieces by Raymond Scott, and myriad other surprises. The notes might have been slightly fuller, but the sessionography is fine, and this disc is is several cuts above the usual compilation. The fresh remastering (which allows the 1935 "I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me" to slot in almost seamlessly with the 20-year-newer material) makes even the stuff off of available CDs like Indigos worth owning.

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