429

Duke Ellington: Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins

By

Sign in to view read count
This extraordinary 1962 session was the realization of a promise made thirty years earlier between the maestro, Duke Ellington, and the father of the tenor saxophone, Coleman Hawkins, that they would some day make a record together. Released a mere two months ahead of the largely iconic Ellington-Coltrane meeting, the earlier date is distinguished by the creative energies and commitment both men bring to the proceedings, with Ellington producing a scaled-down version of one of his best bands and Hawkins playing like his characteristically authoritative self while becoming an integral member of the ensemble (in effect, he replaces tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves).

There are two considerations with the disc. Musically, it offers the compositional genius of Ellington and inspired solo work by his principals—altoist Johnny Hodges, cornetist Ray Nance, and trombonist Lawrence Brown. On the opening, inviting calypso rhythms of "Limbo Jazz," energized by the vocalizations of drummer Sam Woodyard, Hawkins seems all but forgotten until he slyly joins the party with a short but definitive closing solo. On "The Jeep Is Jumping" he's a more visible clean-up hitter, following the felicitous statements of the other tonal personalities with a masterful, extended sermon that leaves no doubt about who's the guest of honor. He double-times "You Dirty Dog" and sweetly converses with Ray Nance's fiddle on "The Ricitic."

"Mood Indigo" and "Self-Portrait" are all Hawkins, with the former, especially, capturing the delicate textures of Ellington's orchestral palette thanks to exceptional mixing by engineer Rudy Van Gelder. The Latin-tinged "Ray Charles Place" soon yields to an up-tempo shuffle rhythm on which the principals again shine, Hawkins' tenor ultimately chasing away any remaining clouds. The broad back-beat of "Wanderlust" suits Hodges, the underrated Nance, and baritone saxophonist Harry Carney to a tee, with Brown's trombone once again threatening to take solo honors before Hawkins' sensual entrance and building, climactic solo.

But this reissue raises serious extra-musical questions. The original company, Impulse, was primarily associated with late Coltrane and the avant-garde, so the first reissue of this date in 1995 saw Universal, the conglomerate with rights to the Impulse name, releasing the date under another of its labels—GRP. The latter, however, was primarily associated with new-age, or "contemporary jazz," sounds, so for this 2007 reissue Universal has replayed its musical shell game, releasing it under the more traditional Verve label. Moreover, the present edition, besides raising the price, omits the preceding reissue's bonus track ("Solitude"), foregoes new liner notes and, worse, prints the old ones in a microscopic, fuzzy, illegible font.

Obviously, record companies—at least the "Big 4"—are unwilling to spend an extra dollar or hour on a domestic reissue when it's far more cost-effective to induce consumers to download individual tracks or the album. Since the earlier, 1995 edition of this priceless session is still available, the reader is left to draw his own conclusion about the better value.

Track Listing

Limbo Jazz; Mood Indigo; Ray Charles' Place; Wanderlust; You Dirty Dog; Self-Portrait (Of the "Bean"); The Jeep Is Jumpin'; The Ricitic.

Personnel

Ray Nance: cornet and violin; Lawrence Brown: trombone; Johnny Hodges: alto sax; Harry Carney: baritone sax and bass clarinet; Coleman Hawkins: tenor sax; Duke Ellington: piano; Aaron Bell: bass; Sam Woodyard: drums.

Album information

Title: Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

Tags

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

MUSICSTACK
Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
AMAZON
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
HD TRACKS
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
CD UNIVERSE
Specializing in music, movies and video games
REVERB
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

More

Read Cell Walk
Cell Walk
Sara Schoenbeck/Wayne Horvitz
Read Live In Graz
Live In Graz
Joe Fielder's Big Sackbut
Read Mid Century Modern
Mid Century Modern
Doug MacDonald
Read #BLACKLIVESMATTER
#BLACKLIVESMATTER
The Ogún Meji Duo featuring Dr. Mark Lomax, II and Edwin Bayard
Read Africa Today
Africa Today
Etuk Ubong
Read Stillefelt
Stillefelt
Stillefelt