Eastbourne Performance

Duke Ellington

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Eastbourne Performance Review

by Scott Yanow

Duke Ellington's final recording (made 49 years after his first) was made during a concert in Eastbourne, England. The Ellington Orchestra was a bit weaker than it had been (many of the veterans had either died or retired) but it was still a mighty outfit with such new members as tenor saxophonist Percy Marion and trumpeters Barry Lee Hall, Johnny Coles (featured on "How High the Moon") and Money Johnson (who sings "Basin Street Blues"). Also featured on the date are clarinetist Russell Procope, altoist Harold Minerve, tenor saxophonist Harold Ashby and vocalist Anita Moore (who does what she can with "New York, New York"); other highlights include "Tiger Rag" and a tenor battle on "Woods." Actually the most impressive soloist on the album (which has yet to be reissued on CD) is Ellington himself, who plays both "The Piano Player" and a touching version of "Meditation" (the closer on this final album) as unaccompanied solos. A fitting ending to a truly remarkable career.

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