Mercer Ellington

Black and Tan Fantasy

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Throughout his erratic life in music, Mercer Ellington made several attempts to put together bands but none caught on. During 1958-59 he borrowed most of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (using either Billy Strayhorn or Jimmy Jones on piano) for a pair of albums made for the Coral label. This 1973 MCA LP has 14 of the 24 selections and contains quite a bit of fine swinging music. There are seven songs apiece by Mercer and his father Duke Ellington but, although Mercer did some of the arranging (along with Luther Henderson and Andy Gibson), this sounds very much like a Duke Ellington album. Among the main soloists are trumpeters Harold Baker and Clark Terry, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, altoist Johnny Hodges and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster.