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MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Duke Ellington on Storyville Records

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The legend of Duke Ellington--one of very few jazzmen worthy of the overworked accolade “genius"--continues to unfold four decades after his death. In large part this is thanks to the efforts of Ellington himself. From 1950 to 1974, he kept a private “stockpile" of recordings made for his own pleasure... and with an eye on posterity. Following his death on May 24th 1974, Duke's son Mercer donated this “stockpile" to Danish Radio. Since then ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rick Hirsch's Big Ol' Band: Pocono Git-Down

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Even though the days of cross-country bus trips, one-night stands and regular appearances on radio and TV have long since vanished, big bands continue to dot the landscape on all corners of the map, from such large population hubs as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and others to cities and towns so small that their names are generally unfamiliar to anyone who doesn't live nearby. Composer / arranger Rick Hirsch's impressive Big Ol' Band, which makes its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Warren & The Brass Project: The Traveller's Tale

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The John Warren /John Surman collaboration The Brass Project(ECM 1478) recorded in 1992, was a belated follow-up to their previous 1971 collaboration Tales Of The Alonquin on Decca's Deram label. As John Kelman's 2005 review of the Vocalion reissue of Tales of the Alonquin avers, this was, in Kelman's words, a “seminal recording." This archival release of the brass-heavy British ensemble appears on the burgeoning Fledg'ling label (ostensibly a folk label but increasingly reissuing rare British jazz) and ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra: Consummation – 1970

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Blue Note was never home to many big bands, but the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra recorded four albums for the label from 1967-70, and one is a certified classic. Consummation is the musical equivalent of Neapolitan ice cream--three flavors packed into one large container. The album contains three moods: soft and contemplative, sprightly and upbeat, and soulful and funky. Each gets two or three songs, and together they make a tasty treat. The record begins with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thad Jones: The Magnificent Thad Jones

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It's all about the swing. Featured in the Count Basie Orchestra, one of the hardest swinging bands ever, Thad Jones had more swing in his little toe then most musicians will ever dream of. Even when he slowed the tempo he still swung, and his second date as a leader for Blue Note Records, The Magnificent Thad Jones, swings more at mid-tempo than almost any record I know. The rhythm on this record is a relentless pendulum: It swings left; ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Rotterdam 1969

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Here's a succulent and long-hidden treat for Duke Ellington aficionados: a wide-ranging and reasonably well-recorded concert performance by the Ellington orchestra from 1969 at the Do Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Many of Ellington's tried-and-true favorites are here, along with a number of lesser-known themes such as tenor Paul Gonsalves' feature, “Up Jump"; “Come Off the Veldt (and Into the Bush)," a showpiece for drummer Rufus Jones; alto Johnny Hodges' star turn, “Black Butterfly"; and trumpeter Cat Anderson's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Davies Big Band: The Expensive Train Set

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Tim Davies, who led a big band in his native Australia before relocating to Los Angeles in 2000, reprises that experience on parts of The Expensive Train Set, returning home to supervise his Melbourne ensemble on four selections, presiding over his Los Angeles-based band on four others, and somehow managing to blend the two groups together as one on the ambitious title song, which Davies calls “the centerpiece of the album," as well it should be. Whereas ...

ANATOMY OF A STANDARD

Prelude to a Kiss by Duke Ellington

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Last month's initial installment of this column opened with an introduction to the concept of analyzing jazz standards for the purpose of adding to our understanding about the structure and elements of great songs having enduring qualities. I did not feel it required mentioning that a song's final structure and the process of songwriting were completely different viewpoints. One purview implies looking back at a final product of art and the other requires looking ahead at a blank page of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kurt Jarnberg Quintet: Down Memory Lane 2 / Down Memory Lane Vol. 3, The Power Package

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In the late 1960s, trombonist and sometime trumpeter Kurt Jarnberg led a popular jazz quintet in his native Sweden, one that lasted for only a couple of years before disbanding. Jarnberg came back with another small group in the mid-'70s, adding vocalist Ruth Asenlund (Jarnberg) to the mix, disbanded again, then returned to action with yet another group from 1986-89. The first of these bands is represented on the 2-CD set Down Memory Lane 2, the others on Volume 3, ...


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