Togo Brava Suite

Duke Ellington

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Togo Brava Suite Review

by Scott Yanow

This single CD reissues all of the contents of the original United Artists double LP. By the time of these concerts from England, the Duke Ellington Orchestra had suffered quite a few losses of veteran personnel with Johnny Hodges having passed away and such greats as Cat Anderson, Ray Nance, Lawrence Brown, and Jimmy Hamilton having departed. However, the band was still a major force, and this set has plenty of highpoints. Ellington's four-part "Togo Brava Suite" contains some memorable themes; there are spirited remakes of "C Jam Blues," "Cotton Tail," "In a Mellotone," and "I Got It Bad" (the latter featuring vocalist Nell Brookshire), and among the solo stars are the ancient-sounding trumpeter Cootie Williams, trombonist Booty Wood, Norris Turney on alto and flute (his "Checkered Hat" is a fine tribute to Hodges), the tenors of Paul Gonsalves and Harold Ashby, and pianist Ellington himself.

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