(b. 4/29/1899 - Washington, DC d. 5/24/74 - New York, NY)
|Title: The Blanton-Webster Band
Personnel: Various: Ben Webster (tenor sax), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Sam Nanton (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Sonny Greer (drums), Jimmy Blanton (bass).
Label: RCA Bluebird
Comments: Duke Ellington: one of the greatest musicians of all time in any genre! This man's career is an inspiration to us all as fellow human beings, with a devotion to his art as deep and committed as Michaelangelo or Picasso. His palette was his band, and he had one in one form or another for over 50 years. This two CD set highlights a very important bass player in the history of jazz - Jimmy Blanton. A unique prodigy, Blanton influenced every bass player that came after him, even though he died young in his early twenties. The great tenor sound of Ben Webster also made it's debut in this band.
|Title: Ellington at Newport 1956 - Live
Personnel: Various: Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Clark Terry (trumpet), Britt Woodman (trombone), Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Sam Woodyard (drums), James Woode (bass).
Comments: By 1956, Duke Ellington was a legend, having been in the mainstream making music for almost 35 years. Subsequently, his popularity had faded somewhat. But this concert was a revitalizing event, with Paul Gonsalves' famous 27 chorus solo on "Diminuendo And Crescendo In Blue" marking a comeback of sorts for this great band. Duke would ultimately pen over 1200 compositions during the duration of his career.
|Title: ...And His Mother Called Him Bill
Personnel: Various: Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Lawerence Brown (trombone), Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Duke Ellington (piano), Sonny Greer (drums), Aaron Bell (bass).
Label: RCA Bluebird
Comments: Ellington's alter ego was Billy Strayhorn, who penned many of Ellington's greatest hits, including "Take The 'A' Train," and one of jazz's greatest songs, "Lush Life." Ellington would become quite religious in his later years, which would lead to his "Sacred Concert" series of long-form compositions. In the midst of this period, Billy Strayhorn died in May, 1967, and Ellington recorded this fitting tribute. Johnny Hodges is almost unbearable to listen to, as his soul-wrenching sound is a testament to the anguish felt by Stayhorn's fellow musicians.
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