421

Duke Ellington: Ellington Uptown

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Ellington Uptown was originally released in 1951; several reissues have appeared since. This year’s reissue includes bonus tracks. While the original—with Clark Terry and Louie Bellson, but without Johnny Hodges—has been viewed with contrasting opinions over the years, it remains solid Ellingtonian swing with an emphasis on individual artists. Bellson, Terry, Paul Gonsalves, Betty Roche, Cat Anderson and Quentin Jackson each have plenty of opportunities to characterize the Ellington orchestra the way the Duke had envisioned it.

These full-length concert arrangements were special in their day. Longer than most recordings, they gave the band more freedom. Sony has included bonus tracks: the 10-inch LP Liberian Suite, including “I Like the Sunrise,” and Ellington’s exotic Dances 1 through 5; as well as the “Controversial Suite,” comprised of “Before My Time” and “Later,” which were also recorded in December of 1951.

”Controversial Suite” includes two pieces that are intended to show the contrast between traditional jazz of the period just following World War II and the new “progressive” jazz that was just catching on. Ellington proved that his orchestra could swing in either format. “Before My Time” opens with a wailing front line that features the Dixieland swing of Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Terry, Jackson, Shorty Baker, Ray Nance, and the band. Trombonist Jackson carries the unit through tailgate antics, Procope swings with a soprano saxophone cry, and Louie Bellson provides an authentic New Orleans shuffle step.

“Later,” after opening with its permeating tick-tock theme, captures the dense harmonies and deeper textures of “progressive” jazz, and what Stan Kenton had been ushering in as symphonic jazz and neophonic jazz. This piece serves as a reminder of the many orchestral suites that came from Ellington’s pen, and how they changed the face of modern jazz.

Liberian Suite, recorded on December 24, 1947 at Liederkranz Hall in New York, includes individual solo spotlights on Harry Carney, Al Hibbler, Ray Nance, Tyree Glenn, Lawrence Brown and several others. Exotic in nature, the suite carried swing on a journey to distant lands and back. Ellington’s journeys have always been able to take his audience to distant lands. This recommended album carries early elements of the composer’s extended concepts forward, and delivers them with improved sound.


Track Listing: Skin Deep; The Mooche; Take the

Personnel: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn- piano; Oscar Pettiford, Junior Raglin, Wendell Marshall- bass; Louie Bellson- drums; Sonny Greer- drums, tympani on

Title: Ellington Uptown | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Columbia Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read The Chase CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Paint CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read A Pouting Grimace CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Moments Of Fatherhood" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Of Fatherhood
by John Sharpe
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Bloodroot" CD/LP/Track Review Bloodroot
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Behind The Mist" CD/LP/Track Review Behind The Mist
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Outside The Comfort Zone" CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.