Duke Ellington

The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse

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Recorded in 1971, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse reads in many ways like a follow up to the 1967 epic Far East Suite. Compelling, cosmopolitan, and organic, this music comes from Ellington's sifting of travel experiences, and it sounds as if he is using his impressions of places and people rather than appropriations of "authentic" scales and rhythms. "Chinoiserie" is boisterous and fun, with long-tone horn peals forming the melodic cornerstone. Tenorman Harold Ashby takes his place blowing pure swing. "Afrique" is a percussion-based piece, with a liberal layering of the horn players' entrances creating strains that are at first incongruous, then tie briefly together toward the middle of the affair. Preceded by the more even-tempered melodic and rhythmic structures of "Acht" and "Gong," "Tang" takes the picture to the outer limits again with strident opening horn blasts that yield to staccato call-and-responses that chill to the bone. All in all, a textured, cross-cultural treat for the ears.

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