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Black Brown & Beige [Extra tracks, Original recording remastered]

Duke Ellington, Mahalia JacksonAudio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Black Brown & Beige + Three Suites + Blues in Orbit
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  • Three Suites $7.43
  • Blues in Orbit $6.97

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 27, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: 1943
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00000IMYC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,188 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part I
2. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part II
3. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part III (AKA Light)
4. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part IV (AKA Come Sunday)
5. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part V (AKA Come Sunday)
6. Black, Brown, & Beige: Part VI (23rd Psalm)
7. Track 360 (AKA Trains) (Alternate Take)
8. Blues In Orbit (AKA Tender) (Alternate Take)
9. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part I
10. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part II
11. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part III (AKA Light)
12. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part IV (AKA Come Sunday)
13. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part V (AKA Come Sunday)
14. Black, Brown, & Beige (Alternate Take): Part VI (23rd Psalm)
15. Studio Conversation (Mahalia Swears)
16. Come Sunday (A Cappella)
17. (Pause Track)

Editorial Reviews

As a composer and bandleader associated indelibly with the nightclub scenes of pre-Swing Era jazz, Duke Ellington would have a difficult time getting respect in the button-down world of concert music. And when Ellington premiered his first long-form piece, Black, Brown and Beige, in 1943 (available on the stunning Carnegie Hall Concerts, January 1943), he was considered a dilettante. He laid the work aside until this recording, which came in early 1958--with the added oomph of gospel vocalist Mahalia Jackson on board for all the suite's vocal parts. On this expanded reissue, Columbia has added an alternate take of the entire piece as well as two unrelated tracks recorded during the Black, Brown sessions but never before released. The suite is an expansive look, from Ellington's vantage, of course, at the evolution of African American history and culture. So there are ripples of spirited tone poetry, soaring gospel vocals from Jackson (with spare, aching piano from Ellington in spots), thundering horn-fronted swing from the band, and a consistency and unity on par with any symphonic work of the modern era. Ellington was always sensitive about this piece. After all, it showed a lot of what he held in high esteem: history, musical meditations on culture, and a full, colorful use of a band that Ellington held together for an amazingly long time. If only for Mahalia Jackson's takes on "Come Sunday," by now an acknowledged standard, this set is awesome. --Andrew Bartlett

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellington at his Best June 2, 2000
Format:Audio CD
The idea of an extended jazz work more suitable for the concert hall than dance floor was nothing new, Gershwin had gone down that road in 1924 with "Rhapsody in Blue." But Ellington's "Black, Brown & beige," is light years ahead of "Rhapsody," both harmonically (listen to Ellington's orchestration of "Come Sunday") and in capturing that fiery spirit and spirituality which seemed to elude Gershwin. Ellington's band could swing with the best of them, but there is also quite a bit of extrodinary detail in this work. His orchestration is a sure-footed as anything you find in the works of his more classically-minded contemporaries (e.g Hanson, Piston, Bernstien or Barber) and certainly his melodic sense is similarly refined. It really shouldn't have come as any surprise that Ellington would venture out into the concert world; as far back as the early 30's he was producing works of astonishing complexity - look no further than "Ko-Ko" for proof of that. A great recording, essential to any student or lover of Swing - and that not even considering Mahalia Jackson's stunning vocals.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, lovely, lovely! November 4, 2009
Format:Audio CD
Mahalia, generally speaking DIDN'T record (or sing for that matter) jazz, soul, r&b and other genres;
but she had a high opinion of Duke's work and Duke's orchestra (not a huge surprise there) and he did give her a role that goes well with her religious convictions: she was to sing the religious segment of the African American historical experience... Something she was famous for...
So, this is not a typical Ellington orchestra album, but it's a great album nevertheless, with LOVELY and emotional contributions by Ray Nance, Harry Carney, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson, Cat Anderson, Shorty Baker (...) and the Duke himself.

Additional tracks (two of which I already have on my CBS Jazz Masterpieces "Blues in Orbit" CD - Duke Ellington: Blues in Orbit (Columbia Jazz Masterpieces))
are very, very welcome, even if they sometimes dilute the sheer beauty of the core performances of the album, the selected parts from "Black, Brown and Beige" suite. For me, Ellington's music shows continuous development from the late 1920s until the 1960s (I haven't yet listened to the last few years of his orchestrations) so, this peculiar album is something that will repeatedly find its way to my CD player.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Official Portrait. July 28, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Ellington's "Black, Brown, & Beige" ranks as probably his most ambitious work and the one in which he made his heaviest emotional investment. When critics mauled its premiere in the early Forties, Ellington more or less withdrew it. Fifteen years later, he brought it back, substantially reworked, and with at least two of the original movements gone. We get here a kind of Official Portrait of, in my opinion, a more interesting original, but it's still an extraordinarily beautiful work. Also, the Ellington band plays the bejeezus out of it. Ellington wanted Mahalia Jackson for the recording. She had doubts, but Ellington soothed her out of them. Good thing, too. Her "Come Sunday" (written especially for her) ranks as one of her most extraordinary, uplifting performances, and that's saying something. I also love the solos from John Sanders on valve trombone and especially Ray Nance on violin. Grappelli, eat your heart out!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By M. McM
Format:Audio CD
When I first began learning about Ellington eight years ago, one of the first things I read about was "Black, Brown & Beige." Perhaps his most ambitious composition, certainly one of his most famous, it was underappreciated when it first premiered in 1943, and unfortunately, the 'original' arrangement was never given a proper a studio recording. Fortunately, the celebrated Carnegie Hall performance was recorded and is available, but Ellington would later re-work "Black, Brown & Beige" in the studio a number of times.

THIS CD, featuring Mahalia Jackson, is roughly the third time Ellington would record "Black, Brown & Beige," depending on how you count, and like all of his re-workings, it has much to love. It's actually not fair to label it as a 're-working,' because to some, that suggests a work that has been ruined or mutilated. Far from it, this is actually a wonderful and moving performance, a beautiful re-interpretation that greatly benefits from the presence of Mahalia Jackson. The themes from "Work Song" and "Come Sunday" still sound transcendant; the new arrangement works off them, building on the spiritual tone that has always been inherent in this piece and becomes overtly apparent when Mahalia is introduced on Part IV.

For someone just getting acquainted with "Black, Brown & Beige," this CD may be the most accessible version, especially if you're new to jazz. However, I'd recommend this CD to anyone. This release was actually a re-issue coinciding with Duke's centennial, and the packaging is done very well - original liner notes plus new ones from Monsignor John Sanders and producer Phil Schaap.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLACK, BROWN, AND BEIGE (COLUMBIA RECORDS/1958) January 15, 2009
Format:Audio CD
REVIEW: "BLACK, BROWN, AND BEIGE" made its first premier in 1943, but was received with lukewarm reviews by critics who really didn't know what to make of such an ambitious program that incorporated classical, blues, and gospel music into a supple jazz mix. So Ellington decided to stash it away and would only perform the score in piecemeal over the next fifteen years until he felt that his original conception was suitably perfected (thus eventually releasing it on Columbia Records in 1958). The result is not only a seminal landmark of jazz history, but is quite simply one of the greatest works of art to ever come out of the American experience. It is a monument that has helped to define the internal soul of every black, brown, and beige man, woman, and child living in this country (not just at that time: but for ALL time). The six parts which make up the whole composition can be divided into those three musical catagories of classical ("Part II" and the "Part V" interlude), gospel/blues (Mahalia Jackson's immaculate singing of "Come Sunday" on "Part IV" and "The Lord's Prayer" on "Part VI"), and jazz (the bold, stately "Work Theme" of "Part I" and the harder swing featured on "Part III") with overlapping between them all. The love, humanity, and beauty of Duke's inspiration could only have come from God. And in its own modest way this is as vitally important a record as Coltrane's "A LOVE SUPREME" or Miles Davis' "KIND OF BLUE" or "BITCHES BREW" when it comes to pushing the boundaries of popular music. In other words: if you haven't heard this album (and haven't allowed its glory to wash over your soul like a baptism): then life as you know it is incomplete. The CD reissue is even more impressive: with outtakes of all the tracks, some studio chatter, and a couple of early run-throughs of "Track 360" (a.k.a. "Trains") and "Blues In Orbit" (a.k.a. "Tender"). Magnificent stuff.


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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great, Ellington works
One of the early, great, Ellington works. The Mahalia Jackson piece alone is in a thing of astounding beauty and power. It is in my brain forever.
Published 2 months ago by thomas snell
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It's good
Published 3 months ago by Christine Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for Dad
Bought this album for my Dad last year after he asked me if I remembered his Black, Brown & Beige record that he and Mother had.. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kent Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars MOVING AND HEARTFELT
ELLINGTON, Duke, and his Orchestra. Black, Brown and Beige. Columbia. 2008; orig. 1958. $4.99.
DE, p; Mahalia Jackson, voc; other soloists: Harry Carney, bari sx; Shorty... Read more
Published 20 months ago by David Keymer
5.0 out of 5 stars Black, brown and Beige by Duke Ellington
It is a fabulous disc. Anyone who likes Duke Ellington and or jazz would love to hear it. Brings back the old days. Jazz is certainly a wonderful genre.
Published 21 months ago by GloriaGKarp
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Ellington CD
Black, Brown And Beige
this Cd, featuring Mahalia Jackson, is a must-have in any jazz or Ellington collection. I'm partial to Ellington's sacred works and this one's a winner.
Published on April 29, 2012 by M. Y. Mim
5.0 out of 5 stars The Official Portrait
Ellington's "Black, Brown, & Beige" ranks as probably his most ambitious work and the one in which he made his heaviest emotional investment. Read more
Published on February 26, 2012 by Steven Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, lovely, lovely!
Mahalia, generally speaking DIDN'T record (or sing for that matter) jazz, soul, r&b and other genres;
but she had a high opinion of Duke's work and Duke's orchestra (not a... Read more
Published on November 4, 2009 by Nikica Gilic
5.0 out of 5 stars A Religious Experience
Mahalia Jackson's contribution to this recording is simply too beautiful for words. It is faith restoring. Read more
Published on January 2, 2009 by Barry A. Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson
Here I found something, I never expected: Mahalia Jackson in combination with Duke Ellington. What a pleasant surprise for an old Jazz addikt. Read more
Published on January 18, 2007 by Dieter Mosig
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