Rex Stewart

Rex Stewart and the Ellingtonians

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This CD reissue has the music from three unrelated sessions. Most valuable are four titles from 1940 that clock in around four minutes (rather than three) apiece and match cornetist Rex Stewart with fellow Ellingtonians (trombonist Lawrence Brown, clarinetist Barney Bigard, and Duke's former bassist Wellman Braud) in addition to pianist Billy Kyle, guitarist Brick Fleagle, and drummer Dave Tough. Their versions of "Bugle Call Rag" and "Diga Diga Doo" are quite exciting. There are also four titles (all Stewart originals) from 1946 that showcase the cornetist in a quartet with pianist Kyle, bassist John Levy, and drummer Cozy Cole. Ironically, the last two songs (also from 1946) are from a session without Rex that was led by pianist Jimmy Jones and included some more of Duke's men (past and present): trombonist Brown, altoist Otto Hardwick, baritonist Harry Carney, and bassist Billy Taylor (in addition to trumpeter Joe Thomas, Ted Nash on tenor, and drummer Shelly Manne). Overall, the music (small-group swing) is quite enjoyable, and these underrated titles are well-worth picking up by mainstream collectors.

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