It should not be so hard to identify the most important jazz musician in the history of the genre. It is one of five artists: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. Much can be made for Ellington being the logical choice. Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974) lived the entire history of jazz. He led arguably the most important big band of the swing era while also recording widely in smaller formats. But Ellington considered his music well beyond the definition of jazz. The extended compositions championed by Wynton Marsalis in the 1980s and '90s, germinated in the band book of Ellington.
The three suites included here were recorded between 1959 and 1972. "The Queen's Suite" was composed shortly after the coronation of Great Britain's Elizabeth II in 1955 and contains a solo piano (supported by string bass) composition, "Single Petal of a Rose." The Goutelas and Uwis Suites are 1970s products. The latter is supplemented with "The Kiss" recorded at the same time as the suite. Ellington still featured Paul Gonsalves and Johnny Hodges, whose voices loom large on this recording.
Ellington's suites may have suffered from under exposure for their forward thinking approach of melding jazz and classical forms. But listening to these pieces, the thread of Ellington, that creative remnant that matured in the late 1920s is in fully flowered evidence on these relatively late career recordings. These pieces make it hard to dispute Ellington's supremacy in American jazz.
Track Listing: The Queen’s Suite; The Goutelas Suite; The Uwis Suite; The Kiss.
Personnel: Duke Ellington: piano and composition; The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Year Released: 2013
| Record Label: Original Jazz Classics Remasters
| Style: Big Band
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.