Alhambra: Oct 27th 1958

Duke Ellington

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Alhambra: Oct 27th 1958 Review

by Ken Dryden

The tracks within this first of two volumes were drawn from two separate concerts recorded on the same evening at the Alhambra in Paris. Like many releases of quasi-legal origin, it is hard to say that Duke Ellington himself would have authorized the release of these performances, as there are some problems with a squeaky reed in spots. "Take the 'A' Train" is joined in progress, while there are numerous other live versions of medleys like "Black and Tan Fantasy/Creole Love Call/The Mooche" and "Kinda Dukish/Rockin' in Rhythm." That said, the band is in good form. Among the highlights are works of fairly recent vintage: "Newport Up" (showcasing a wild tradeoff of brief exchanges between Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves and clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton), a medley of "Such Sweet Thunder" and "Sonnet to Hank Cinq," though "What Else Can You Do With a Drum" is a bit of a dud. As usual, Johnny Hodges' masterful alto sax is generously featured in several numbers, including "Jeep's Blues," "All of Me" and a rousing "Things Ain't What They Used to Be." Ellington collectors will want to look for this European import, which has also been issued by other labels.

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