Duke Ellington

Studio Sessions, Vol. 10

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Duke Ellington frequently took his band into the studio to record at his own expense to

revisit older compositions, often to incorporate new arrangements. But the music on this compilation from his so-called stockpile comes from sessions recorded between 1965 and 1971. Eight of the tracks come from his extended "Black, Brown & Beige" suite that was premiered in 1943 at Carnegie Hall. Like later versions performed or taped after its debut, it has been condensed, though this arrangement done two decades later has many merits, particularly Harry Carney's sonorous baritone sax in "Black," the unusual "Come Sunday" (with Chuck Connors introducing its theme on bass trombone, Ray Nance's tantalizing pizzicato on the violin, plus the majestic alto sax of Johnny Hodges backed by a chorus of trombones) along with trumpeter Cootie Williams sassy muted solo in the lively "Emancipation Celebration." The only disappointing track is the ludicrous take of "The Blues," a 1971 version featuring Tony Watkins' overblown vocals, though Money Johnson's trumpet solo almost makes up for them. Ellington returned to his suite "Harlem" (also known as "A Tone Parallel to Harlem") on many occasions after its premiere and played it in concert on occasion. The emphasis is more on the ensemble than soloists, though Williams' prominent trumpet can't be overlooked. "Ad Lib on Nippon" was a part of "The Far East Suite," though it stands well on its own. The piano player takes an extended duet with bassist John Lamb before showcasing clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton as it builds to its powerful climax. The last of ten CDs from the Ellington family's holding during the late '80s, Studio Sessions, Vol. 10 should be of great interest to serious collectors of Duke Ellington's recordings.