Duke Ellington

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Was just about to post that! Can't wait to listen. It seems a bit short and heavy on the standbys, but I guess that's to be expected.

Let A Man Come In And Do The Cop Porn (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 24 February 2012 16:31 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, festival date, crowd-pleasing mode. but those can be the best when it comes to duke.

tylerw, Friday, 24 February 2012 16:40 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Happy 113th, Duke! WCKR birthday broadcast here.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Sunday, 29 April 2012 16:16 (five years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the tip. Happy Birthday, Duke!

Stars on 45 Fell on Alabama (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 29 April 2012 18:31 (five years ago) Permalink

happy b-day! here he is 50 years ago

tylerw, Sunday, 29 April 2012 19:17 (five years ago) Permalink


Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Sunday, 29 April 2012 19:34 (five years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

Don't know why it took me a decade to get around to watching Ken Burns' Jazz doc, but there was a fascinating bit about Duke composing the ambitious but melancholy 13 minute "Reminiscing In Tempo" after his mother's passing in 1935. Critics savaged it at the time, but it sounds like a groundbreaking masterpiece. The version I found, however, from a 9 disc Complete Brunswick, Columbia and Master sounds like crap, recorded off a scratchy 78. Anyone know the best version? I'm guessing it's the Best of 1932-39, as it was restored by Harry Coster from the Dutch Jazz Archive. Ironically Sony released the budget priced set just in 2008, but it's already sold out and now fetching prices over $75. Trade, anyone?

The Best of Duke Ellington: 1932-1939 [4CD]
Masterpieces 1926-1949 [4CD]
Reminiscing In Tempo (1991 comp)

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 15 February 2013 03:25 (four years ago) Permalink

Further reading says the version I have is actually from the 11 disc Mosaic set, The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick,Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra, and it's supposed to be the best. That can't be right!

Fastnbulbous, Friday, 15 February 2013 03:59 (four years ago) Permalink

Sadly, that's probably the case. I haven't heard, or heard of, a single instance of any Mosaic set having anything less than stellar mastering from the best available sources.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 15 February 2013 14:43 (four years ago) Permalink

Had never heard this one (but there's tons of Ellingtom I haven't heard). This original 78 sounds really nice!


Nataly Dawn's echoey swamp sound (Dan Peterson), Friday, 15 February 2013 15:33 (four years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Recently picked up the 1940 Fargo live set (recently reissued after being out of print for a couple of years).

Holy fucking shit. This is incredible. For one thing, the sound quality easily equals or bests that of the studio recordings from the early 40s. But more than any other Ellington record, even better-recorded later live records, this gives the clearest impression of what it must have been like to hear this incredible orchestra live.

Shart Week (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 10 August 2013 23:00 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Duke Ellington played Afghanistan 50 years ago this week:

More background on his 1963 State Department tour, including video of one of his Baghdad shows:

punt cased (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 September 2013 00:50 (four years ago) Permalink


tylerw, Saturday, 21 September 2013 02:47 (four years ago) Permalink

Whoa, is the Ben Williams posting upthread (ten years ago) the jazz bassist?

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Saturday, 21 September 2013 03:47 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Terry Teachout's latest book is Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. He's making the book talk rounds for this. Teachout is criticized by some for his neo-con politics (I recall Christgau mixing praise and criticism in his take on Teachout's Louis Armstrong book)

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 19:56 (four years ago) Permalink

National Review interview!

LOPEZ: How could music be Ellington’s mistress, as the saying goes, when the man appears to have had so many mistresses? Did a lack of discipline hurt both his personal and professional life?

TEACHOUT: I don’t know whether that question is answerable. He was, after all, a hugely prolific composer who left behind a considerable number of masterpieces, so he must have been doing something right. But we can’t know how many more he might have written had he not diverted so much of his time and energy into the pursuit of women — though it’s also important to remember that he believed this pursuit to be musically inspirational.


curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:26 (four years ago) Permalink

I'll be skipping this one. Teachout wrote an awful essay that largely dismissed Ellington's longer works, and Ellington as a composer, as inadequate for not utilizing the formalized tools of "classical music" that his music shouldn't have aspired to anyway.

Also, Christgau otm re: Teachout's politics.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:46 (four years ago) Permalink


LOPEZ: One of the “peculiarities” of Duke Ellington’s career, you write, is that “he was a major composer but not an influential one.” Why is that? How does that happen?

TEACHOUT: He wrote great music, but his techniques were so intensely personal and unique unto himself that they were for all intents and purposes inimitable. Hence he didn’t influence anybody — all that other artists could do was play his songs in their own ways.

Does Teachout even know what the word "influential" means?

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:50 (four years ago) Permalink

The idea that Ellington wasn't (and isn't) widely imitated is just .... strange

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 20:56 (four years ago) Permalink

um hello mingus?

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:01 (four years ago) Permalink

just think what Ellington could have accomplished if he had had as little sex as Teachout

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:03 (four years ago) Permalink

brad c with the sick burn

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:08 (four years ago) Permalink

Megalol @ that not influential bs

Ayn Rand Akbar (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:17 (four years ago) Permalink

The pr hype for the book says on the longlist for the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 November 2013 21:53 (four years ago) Permalink


Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2013 23:42 (four years ago) Permalink

On the Money Jungle tip, here's Ellington playing Fleurette Africain solo

Øystein, Wednesday, 6 November 2013 13:26 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

reading the teachout book now -- lots of good stuff in it for sure, but yeah, he does have some fairly wacky ideas about ellington's music and influence. and he gets pretty judgy mcjudgerson about ellington's personal life.

tylerw, Friday, 3 January 2014 18:27 (three years ago) Permalink

Spoiler alert -- You might not want to read the below if you're gonna see "American Hustle"...

In a pivotal scene in "American Hustle," Christian Bale's character is drawn to Amy Adams' character and her charm bracelet depicting Duke Ellington.

During a lavish pool party, Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) locks eyes with Sydney Prosser (Adams) from across the room. Rosenfeld approaches Prosser and as she reaches for a plate of vegetables, he grabs her arm.

"Is that Duke Ellington on your bracelet?" Rosenfeld asks.

"As a matter of fact it is. He died this year, ya know?" Prosser responds.

"I know. I doubt anyone else here knows or cares about it," he said.

"Well, I care about it. He's saved my life many times," she said.

"Mine too. Which one?"

"Jeep's Blues," she said.

Rosenfeld, a con man, then invites Prosser to hear the album. The meeting sparks a partnership and romance that is key to the plot of the David O' Russell-directed film, which was released last week and is picking up a lot of awards season buzz.


curmudgeon, Friday, 3 January 2014 19:06 (three years ago) Permalink

Ha, that was one of the few bright spots in the film for me.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 3 January 2014 19:13 (three years ago) Permalink

Ethan Iverson has posted a pair of pieces on Teachout and his book on Do The Math:
An interview with Teachout
Reverential Gesture: "A personal celebration of Duke Ellington that disagrees with some of the musical analysis in Teachout's biography."

Øystein, Wednesday, 8 January 2014 16:36 (three years ago) Permalink

thanks, those are both great

tylerw, Wednesday, 8 January 2014 18:24 (three years ago) Permalink

Ellington is a huge yawning gulf in my listening. The only stuff I have in my iPod is Blues in Orbit, Money Jungle, and the 3CD box Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band. (I have Black, Brown & Beige and Newport 1956 on CD at home, too.) All of it's fantastic, of course, but I really have no idea where to go next. It's not like there's bad Ellington, I'm sure, but I wish his discography wasn't quite so massive, so I could get a grip on it with a four- or five-CD box or two.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Wednesday, 8 January 2014 18:27 (three years ago) Permalink

this is actually the thing that got me way into ellington way back when: http://www.propermusic.com/product-details/Duke-Ellington-Masterpieces-1926-1949-4CD-10468
4 discs covering 1926-1949. i'm sure that because it's on a cheapo euro label, there might be better sounding versions of this material out there, but I really enjoy it.

tylerw, Wednesday, 8 January 2014 18:33 (three years ago) Permalink

Pretty fascinating footage here:

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 16 January 2014 23:36 (three years ago) Permalink

if you're down with the blanton-webster band, then you might find a set like this useful for filling out your picture of ellington:

Early Ellington: The Complete Brunswick and Vocalion Recordings of Duke Ellington, 1926-1931

there's something about the sounds here. like, that people were doing that, then.

j., Thursday, 16 January 2014 23:53 (three years ago) Permalink

I haven't heard that one, but I love The OKeh Ellington (an insanely-in-need-of-remastering CBS set from the early 90s). What you said about the sounds, that they're doing that then, it applies here. This must have blown so many minds back then -- I mean, it's blowing minds now, for fuck's sake.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 17 January 2014 00:06 (three years ago) Permalink

man that footage is fantastic. I love later Ellington a whole lot and I feel like watching that stuff develop really brings out its strengths

combination hair (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Friday, 17 January 2014 00:07 (three years ago) Permalink

sometimes i feel like he's too good. makes it hard to realize how amazing what they're doing is, because you're just awash in the pleasure of the sounds.

j., Friday, 17 January 2014 00:09 (three years ago) Permalink

just getting into duke really, it's way more complex than i thought it would be

Ronnie James 乒乓 (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 17 January 2014 00:20 (three years ago) Permalink

That Teachout interview upthread that Øystein posted, he actually makes a few good points, but fuck:

Ellington basically gave up on true large-scale composition after A Tone Parallel to Harlem. That’s the last time he tried to write a large-scale, self-contained, organically developed musical structure.

Not true: "The Degas Suite" (not broken into smaller parts, despite its title) from 1968 and "The River" from 1970.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 17 January 2014 00:24 (three years ago) Permalink

What albums are those on?

yes, i have seen the documentary (Jon Lewis), Friday, 17 January 2014 02:00 (three years ago) Permalink

They're both on The Private Collection volume 5.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 17 January 2014 02:02 (three years ago) Permalink

Cool I've never had any idea which vols to get from that series.

"The Queen's Suite" is one of my favorite late Ellingtons.

He should have done a "Queens Suite" too...

yes, i have seen the documentary (Jon Lewis), Friday, 17 January 2014 02:16 (three years ago) Permalink

Love The Queen's Suite!

The Vol. 5 dealie is definitely up there with the best late Ellington work. "The River" has an early incarnation of what would later become "Theme For Mahalia Jackson." One of my all-time favorite moments in his oeuvre (and not a dry eye in the house).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 17 January 2014 02:49 (three years ago) Permalink

I actually went to a school named after Duke Ellington, and we played tons of Ellington stuff in jazz band, so I got a big early dose. I still feel though like his catalogue is just ridiculously overwhelming.

signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Friday, 17 January 2014 03:19 (three years ago) Permalink

Playing them and then playing like Basie and Neil Hefti charts and stuff (which are all great) you really get a sense of what a totally different level Ellington was operating on compositionally. Like other big band composers you get this tidy sense of melody, then the solos, then the sectional "solis" then back, but Ellington, even though it has some of that, idk it feels somewhere in between that and Stravinsky or something.

signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Friday, 17 January 2014 03:22 (three years ago) Permalink

yeah it is overwhelming, but it's just great how you keep finding amazing stuff lurking in there. like this one i think i just heard this month from the late 40s:

tylerw, Friday, 17 January 2014 03:24 (three years ago) Permalink

This is an (I think) underappreciated tune of his I always loved. It's actually a slightly different version of a tune he did for the Anatomy of a Murder soundtrack, but I like this version more:


signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Friday, 17 January 2014 03:28 (three years ago) Permalink

The Blanton-Webster Band set is an ideal starting point, but yeah, it's a pretty daunting discography.

But the guy never made a bad record, so you could just about blindly pick anything.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 17 January 2014 03:31 (three years ago) Permalink

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