446

Duke Ellington: Blues In Orbit

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Duke Ellington: Blues In Orbit Teo Macero's first Ellington recordings resurface in the latest version of the master's popular '58-'59 sessions issued as Blues In Orbit. With band still riding high after the '56 Newport triumph and fresh off the road from Europe, they recorded a jukebox full of 45 single-sized tracks that bear riveting performances by several classic Ellingtonians including Jimmy Hamilton, Ray Nance, Clark Terry, Britt Woodman, Harry Carney, and Billy Strayhorn playing piano on two cuts. And then there's Johnny Hodges. Hodges caresses and finesses his way through ballads, reinventing the language of heartache. His instantly recognizable voice playfully darts in and out of up-tempo arrangements, always sweeping sweetly up a scale, always drenched in blues.

Jimmy Hamilton blows the soulful intro to "Three J's Blues," then after a peppery arrangement returns to a rawer sound. Hodges' best "oh gee" intro pours honey all over "Smada." Once the chorus kicks in, the gloves come off and he wails. A tart trumpet offers good contrast. "Pie Eye's Blues" gives Nance plenty of room to swagger his big-toned yaya trumpet, preceding a rough ride with Gonsalves. The original and the alt take chug along with Jimmy Woode's bass driving the ensemble.

"Sweet and Pungent" uses a sultry slow tempo with a smooth rich reed arrangement against a growly plungered trombone. The solo even more closely imitates a vocal on the alt take, the reeds bathing the ears. A relaxed take on "C Jam Blues" brings Nance's violin back to the forefront with a very different solo than the classic. The pianist leads the bass and drums in a rolling version of "In a Mellow Tone." With Strayhorn on piano, Ellington's free to lead the orchestra with snapping fingers on "Blues in Blueprint." Harry Carney ornaments beautifully on bass clarinet, doubling with Woode midway to the end. Matthew Gee's baritone horn leads the band on "The Swingers Get the Blues," while "Swinger's Jump" lets the rhythm section stoke hot coals for Hodges' fire dance, Woodman's fluent trombone, and Hamilton's soaring clarinet.

The title track has Ellington cradling his idiosyncratic high-end piano stylings with a cool, seamless horn chart. The alt take grips the blue road harder, with Ellington's embellishments as personal as ever. "Villes Ville is the Place, Man" swings evil with Hodges reaching for the sky and Carney earthy on baritone. The runaway train on "Track 360" speeds by in a blink, while Hodges articulates the emotional lessons of "Sentimental Lady" in no hurry at all. Likewise, "Brown Penny" gives Hodges all the space he needs to seduce the ear and ravish the heart.

Blues In Orbit deservingly finds itself on many lists of crucial Ellington releases. The deft precision of these seasoned veterans filtered through the Ellington vision makes this an essential listening experience.


Track Listing: Three J's Blues; Smada; Pie Eye's Blues; Sweet & Pungent; C Jam Blues; In a Mellow Tone; Blues in Blueprint; The Swingers Get the Blues, Too; The Swinger's Jump; Blues In Orbit; Villes Ville is the Place, Man; Track 360; Sentimental Lady; Brown Penny; Pie Eye's Blues (alternate take); Sweet & Pungent (alternate take); The Swinger's Jump (alternate take); Blues In Orbit (alternate take); Track 360 (alternate take).

Personnel: Duke Ellington- piano; Jimmy Woode- bass; Sam Woodyard, Jimmy Johnson- drums; Clark Terry, Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker- trumpet; Ray Nance- trumpet, violin; Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Booty Wood- trombone; Matthew Gee- trombone, baritone horn; Johnny Hodges, Bill Graham- alto saxophone; Russell Procope- alto saxophone, clarinet; Jimmy Hamilton- tenor saxophone, clarinet; Paul Gonsalves- tenor saxophone; Harry Carney- baritone saxophone; Billy Strayhorn- piano on "Smada" and "Blues in Blueprint."

Title: Blues In Orbit | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sony BMG Legacy


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Brasil L.I.K.E" CD/LP/Track Review Brasil L.I.K.E
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Subterranea" CD/LP/Track Review Subterranea
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Reimagined" CD/LP/Track Review Reimagined
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!