Duke Ellington

The Great Paris Concert [Atlantic]

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This set came about, in part, as a result of Ellington's signing to Frank Sinatra's Reprise label in November 1962, with the ending of his exclusive contract to Columbia. Six numbers from the three Paris dates were initially edited and released by Reprise as part of the ten-song Duke Ellington's Greatest, but the bulk of the performances from those shows didn't surface until many years later as The Great Paris Concert on two LPs. The Great Paris Concert is raw and largely unedited, and depicts the full Ellington band in extraordinary form, oozing excitement -- from the saxophone showcase on opener "Rockin' in Rhythm," the various sections of the band take flight at different points throughout this set, which includes such contemporary numbers as Ellington's theme music for an all but forgotten television series, The Asphalt Jungle, and excerpts from Such Sweet Thunder. Johnny Hodges is showcased in several solos, most notably on "Suite Thursday," a work whose original studio incarnation he missed appearing on. Cootie Williams ("Tutti for Cootie"), Paul Gonsalves ("Cop Out"), Ray Nance ("Bula"), and Cat Anderson ("Jam with Sam") get their own moments in the spotlight.

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