Duke Ellington

A Stereo Excursion with Duke Ellington 1953-1973

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Producer Jerry Valburn assembled this anthology of live tracks by Duke Ellington for a record sold to help fund annual meetings of the Duke Ellington society. Since Valburn had ample master tapes he made himself, as well as first generation copies of masters made by other top-notch engineers, sound quality is exceptional throughout most of the disc. Serious fans of Ellington will be familiar with all of the songs present, though it is unlikely that they have heard any of these individual performances, unless they actually attended the concerts from which they were excerpted. Of particular interest is the very subtle arrangement of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," with terrific solos by baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, clarinetist Russell Procope, Quentin Jackson (who sounds very similar to Joe Tricky Sam Nanton's muted "ya-ya" style), and trumpeter Ray Nance. Also fascinating is the pair of tracks written for the soundtrack to Anatomy of a Murder, "Haupe" and "Flirtibird," which come from a 1959 concert that took place just prior to the release of the film. Ozzie Bailey's vocals are off-mic in "Multicolored Blue," though Johnny Hodges' matchless alto sax makes this song worthwhile. One puzzle is the inclusion of yet one more version of "Diminuendo & Crescendo in Blue," though Valburn edited out Paul Gonsalves' famous tenor sax solo from this recording. Ellington and his trumpet star Cootie Williams are showcased in "Jeep's Blues," recorded in 1973 near the end of each of their illustrious careers. Because this out of print record was never widely distributed -- since it was sold primarily at the society's annual meeting and through Valburn's Marlor Productions mail order business -- it will be somewhat challenging to acquire.