Duke Ellington

Jungle Blues 1929-1930, Vol. 8

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AllMusic Review by

EPM Musique's eighth volume of Ellington's late-'20s and early-'30s sides errs much too heavily on the novelty end of things. Blessed with a fantastic band and burgeoning skills as a writer and arranger, Ellington nevertheless was beset with the usual commercial flimflam most jazz bandleaders were saddled with at the time. Blame this on manager Irving Mills, whose focus was generally more on the bottom line than anything else. So, while one can certainly enjoy snatches of fine work by Cootie Williams, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard, and Joe Nanton, they will inevitably have to sift through a large amount of stilted vocals and banjo-driven blues riffs here. And myriad alternate takes of just such fare as "When You're Smiling," "Rent Party Blues," and "St. James Infirmary" don't help matters. Still, there are bright spots like "The Mooche" and "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo," showing Ellington was full of the kind of imagination and talent that would really blossom between 1935-1945. All said, though, even completists might want stay away in favor of Classic's easier-to-digest discs (i.e., no alternate takes) of the same material.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Jungle Band
3:06
2 3:00
3 3:06
4 2:50
5 2:44
6 3:04
7 3:06
8 2:58
9 3:00
10
feat: Jungle Band
3:08
11
feat: Jungle Band
3:16
12
feat: Jungle Band
3:02
13
feat: Jungle Band
3:15
14 2:37
15 2:39
16 3:18
17 3:22
18 3:17
19 3:13
20 2:54
21 2:59
22 3:00
23
feat: Jungle Band
2:51
24
feat: Jungle Band
2:57
25
feat: Jungle Band
2:51
blue highlight denotes track pick