Duke Ellington

Live at Stuttgart, Vol. 1: 1967

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This English LP documents a portion of a 1967 concert by Duke Ellington at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Germany; in spite of the title, the label evidently never issued any follow-up volumes. Unlike many similar live recordings issued under Ellington' name, this album focuses more on compositions of recent vintage, featuring eight different soloists. Russell Procope's delicious vibrato-laden clarinet in "Swamp Goo" contrasts with that of Jimmy Hamilton in a brisk setting of the band's theme song, "Take the 'A' Train." Veteran trumpeter Cootie Williams, who had returned to the band in 1962 after a 22-year absence, nearly steals the show in "Tootie for Cootie," but Johnny Hodges' snappy solo in the recently composed blues "Drag," along with his emotional performance of Billy Strayhorn's final work, "Blood Count" (which still had the working title of "Freakish Light" at the time and was probably introduced as such by Ellington), demonstrate why his sound was the most important part of the band. With the demise of Jazz Band, this valuable LP will be increasingly difficult to acquire.

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