A big band with Gerry Mulligan and Milt Hinton at the bottom, Paul Desmond and Clark Terry at the top, and an all-star cast in the middle makes this previously unissued session quite special. At the end, Duke Ellington sits down at the piano and performs a solo improvisation that he dedicated to Mrs. Pat Nixon. The President awarded Ellington the Medal of Freedom that day. It was the maestro's 70th birthday: April 29, 1969. Preserved on tape and broadcast overseas on the Voice of America, this program has remained in seclusion.
Mulligan's unconventional arrangement of "Prelude to a Kiss" comes as quite a surprise. Emotional conversations between Mulligan and Desmond, Green and Johnson, and Terry with Mulligan, make the up-tempo affair rock heartily. Four of the songs are interpreted without the full ensemble, by piano trios. Special features include Jim Hall on "In a Sentimental Mood," Desmond on "Chelsea Bridge," Mulligan on "Warm Valley" and "Sophisticated Lady," Johnson on "Satin Doll," Terry on "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me," Berry on "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," Joe Williams on two piercing, emotional pieces and one swinger, Mary Mayo on four lovely ballads and Louie Bellson on a romping "Caravan." The session has high points all through it. A little loose in places and yet highly recommended, this all-star program airs jazz the way it's supposed to be.
Track Listing: Take the 'A' Train; medley: I Got it Bad / Chelsea Bridge / Satin Doll / Sophisticated Lady / Just Squeeze Me / I Let a Song Go Out of my Heart / Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me / Don't Get Around Much Anymore / In a Mellotone; In a Sentimental Mood; Prelude to a Kiss; Ring Dem Bells; medley: Drop Me Off in Harlem / All Too Soon / It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Perdido; Warm Valley; Caravan; Mood Indigo; medley: Prelude to a Kiss / I Didn't Know About You; Praise God and Dance; Come Sunday; Heritage; Jump for Joy; Pat.
Personnel: Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Earl Hines, Hank Jones, Billy Taylor- piano; Paul Desmond- alto saxophone; Gerry Mulligan- baritone saxophone; Jim Hall- guitar; Urbie Green, J.J. Johnson- trombone; Bill Berry, Clark Terry- trumpet; Milt Hinton- bass; Louie Bellson- drums; Joe Williams, Mary Mayo- vocal.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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