The Mitchell-Ruff Duo

The Mitchell-Ruff Duo [1956]

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Pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist Willie Ruff, who doubles on French horn, met while playing in Lionel Hampton's big band. They made their recorded debut as a duo for Epic with this LP, providing a fascinating new approach to standards, along with a few works of their own. The classical background of each player is evident throughout much of the album, particularly during Mitchell's elaborate runs in "My One and Only Love" and "Yesterdays." Ruff occasionally plays the role of timekeeper, but is generally playing a separate melodic line to complement Mitchell. Ruff's formidable French horn takes over the spotlight in a stirring arrangement of "Ill Wind." "Come Sunday" is not the better-known Duke Ellington composition, but a jointly created sort of "free rhapsody on spirituals" (as described by the unidentified liner-note writer), including a gorgeous rendition of "Nobody's Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and a boppish take of "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho." Long out of print, this marvelous record will be difficult to acquire.

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