Herb Ellis

Together!/Miracle in Strings

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As strange a pair of albums as can be here. What they have in common is that on the first disc, Herb Ellis' fine band with Al McKibbon, Shelly Manne, Bob Enevoldsen, Lou Levy, as well as Stuff Smith make the string connection. The second album enfolded into this project is with all around string king Harry Lookofsky playing all the strings, with Billy Taylor, Charlie Smith, and Oscar Pettiford, and arrangements by Quincy Jones. The Ellis record swings much harder, as one would expect, especially in the selection of tunes. Stuff sings a pair in "Blues for Janet," and "Why Do You Do Me Like You Do." His violin is hopped up, in the groove, and the interaction between him and Ellis is nearly symbiotic. The counterpoint, cue picks, and melodic invention are marvelous, with great support. Miracle in Strings is virtually danceable except for bebop entering in on the final cut, on a great read of Art Farmer's "Little Bandmaster." Lookofsky's strings are all multi-tracked, something that was revolutionary at the time. Strange but somehow satisfying, this pair work together not so much as complements but reflections of the time.

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