Two Hundred Fifty-Plus Words on Ellington, Part I.
Columbia Records waited until the end of 1950 before recording directly to tape, enabling pieces longer that the biblical three minutes to be recorded. All of this, in spite of the fact that long playing records debuted two years previously. This occasion was the first time in Ellington’s 25-year recording history that the maestro was able to slough off the 78-rpm format and record what he and his band played in concert. The result was Masterpieces By Ellington. The present version of this release unites the original four pieces ("Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady," "The Tattooed Bride," and "Solitude") with three additional pieces, all having in common Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, and Sonny Greer, each who was to depart shortly after this recording.
"Mood Indigo" and "Solitude" have Yvonne Lanauze singing with a beautiful narcotic languor, as well as Harry Carney’s signature bass clarinet. In addition, these songs are among the longest on the record, allowing Ellington to stretch out in his arrangements and intensely personal musicians to stretch out their solos. New to the period, the über-swinging "The Tattooed Bride" illustrates Ellington’s pure virtuosity regarding composition and arrangement. Never afraid to recast his compositions, Ellington provides new insights into his own music. It provides us listeners with that rare glimpse at genius reconsidering genius. This current version of this release was previously released in Japan in 1998 and now is available in the United States. How fortunate we are.
Jazz is for me the most important cultural revolution of the 20th century and I'm proud to
play this kind of music. For me, jazz is more than a kind of music, it's the best way of playing
any musical material.