Duke Ellington

Will Big Bands Ever Come Back?

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In general the '60s were not a good period for big bands and many veteran jazz artists. The labels often pressured musicians to play the more faddish tunes of the day or to come up with gimmicks that would increase their record sales. In Duke Ellington's case, he largely avoided the traps that were set for so many others of his era, with the exception of four albums. This one found him playing 11 tunes from the swing era and, although not that painful (at least there were no note-for-note recreations), the results are also not all that stimulating. It's interesting to hear Ellington play such material as "Smoke Rings," "Artistry in Rhythm" and "Sentimental Journey," once.

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