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Blues in Orbit Extra tracks, Original recording remastered

4.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, July 27, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An undervalued gem from the late '50s, this album finds Duke painting many different shades of blue as he returns to classics like C Jam Blues and In a Mellow Tone . Includes three bonus tracks and five bonus alternate takes!

Amazon.com

The atmospheric, floating quality (see title) of the production and the mysterious, airy, and sparse arrangements make this album an overlooked gem in the Ellington catalog. Two of the tracks were cut in 1958 utilizing the full 15-piece orchestra: the slow-moving blues of the title track, where the leader's eerie piano fills answer the statements of the full band, and "Track 360," a dramatic aural representation of a train wreck. The remainder of the CD (minus one other track) was recorded with slightly smaller configurations at two midnight sessions in December of the following year. Ray Nance (the only trumpet because of band restructuring) and especially Johnny Hodges offer the most rewarding solo contributions of the date, many of which stand alongside their best ever. Hodges's magnificently fragile and seductive alto graces "Brown Penny" and handles both delicate and driving passages with aplomb on Billy Strayhorn's "Smada" (with the composer in the piano chair) while Nance belts out the bridge. The band also revisits earlier classics from the Ellington songbook: Nance shows his violin prowess on "C Jam Blues" before growling through "In a Mellotone"; "Sentimental Lady" is in Hodges's capable caress. --Marc Greilsamer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 27, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0002J58O2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,488 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
What an excellent session by the Duke. I don't know why this isn't considered one of the classic Duke Ellington records. I picked it up because it was on sale and was blown away. All of the songs are excellent, "Pie Eye Blues" and "Sentimental Lady" are my favorites. But pick any track at random, they're all great.

This is a pretty loose session, true, but by no means is it sloppy. If anything, the looseness makes these great tunes even more engaging. The Duke's playing is, of course, superb, but there are also excellent solo turns from Ray Nance and Johnny Hodges.

This is a re-release on which the bonus tracks are really a bonus. I'm not really interested in alternate takes - I'm not a musician or an archivist, just a music fan. But there are three tracks that were not on the original album and they're great. These are not throwaways, they're as good as the 11 originals.

Finally, I'm amazed at how far remastering has come. The sound is incredible. Put this on when someone's over and they'll never guess this was recorded in the 50's.
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Format: Audio CD
The only reason this 1959 album doesn't come up in conversations about Duke's best albums is simply because Duke's catalogue is so enormous and literally every thing he did is classic or near classic. In other words if Duke had recorded only a dozen lp's in his lifetime- this lp would be praised to the high heaven's- and in a lot of circles today it is highly praised as one of his best. I've been listening to this cd in my Buick Park Avenue all week long and can't get enough of "C Jam Blues " and "Three J's Blues " and " In A Mellow Tone ". The original liner notes are intriguing as well and sets a great visual for really enjoying this classic album. The liner notes state that these are after midnight sessions recorded over two nights starting on December 2, 1959 in New York at Columbia Record's studio on East 30th St. and Dukes late nite dinner has arrived at 2am- a sizzling steak, a pot of coffee with lemons in it,portions of american cheese, and grapefruits. If you're just getting into jazz- I highly recommend this album as a great way to initiate your collection. My favorite track on this lp is "C Jam Blues"- I just can't get enough of Ray Nance's violin work on this track- it literally blows me away every time I listen to it. Jazz and Blues lovers everywhere- listen to me- get this lp in your collection pronto. I actually own the original vinyl album of this cd on Columbia -of course it does not include the great bonus tracks found on this cd. As for me- who knows when this cd will be taken out of my cd player in my Buick Park Avenue- maybe never. Duke, If you're listening up there in heaven - you truly were the 20th centuries Beethoven.
Comment 38 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
If you think playing the blues is easy, well you need to listen harder. The 12 bar blues may seem easy and repetitive and straightforward, any kid after a 2 hour class may be able to play some blues, but it takes a life to learn to play it with feeling, with meaning. Duke and his men are able to find that in this album. If this material seems simple at first look, how come there are no Ellingtons on Hodges around anymore? Why there are no albums like 'Blues in Orbit' anymore? Because this is not kid stuff, this is not easy stuff, this is not simple stuff. Putting down this album as 'not adventurous' just because it has the word 'blues' in the title is not knowing what the blues is about, and how complex is to the play the blues right. This album is one of the best in Ellington career, and most certainly a indispensable purchase.
Comment 38 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sometimes I think the best response to the question posed by one of Duke's compositions, "What Am I Here For?" is simply: "To listen to the music of Duke Ellington." Whenever I pick up another recording by his band--whether a pre-Strayhorn edition dating back to the Cotton Club days or the Strayhorn-Blanton-Webster edition of the band or the Paul Gonsalves band of Duke's last 20 years--I'm lost to virtually all other music. No one represents the entire history of the art form as well as its prehistory (addressed by James Baldwin in "Sonny's Blues") better than Duke; no one achieves a more democratic, ideal balance between compositional brilliance and individual expressiveness; no sound is more heavenly (i.e. in a non-terrestrial orbit) than that of Duke's brass, woodwind section, or simply the solo voice of Johnny Hodges). But this might be considered a noteworthy achievement if for no other reason than the common meeting ground it stakes out--the elemental 12-bar blues form--for the average listener and the genius of Ellington.

Ellingtonian blues music makes everything else seem shallow, evanescent, unworthy of a listener's precious time--in that sense it surpasses the mundane and reaches the universal regions of the human spirit. There's reassuring recognition and familiarity on each track along with continual surprise--even on the alternate takes. The program begins with a blues sermon preached by a tenor player who sounds more like Ben Webster than Paul Gonsalves. The program notes suggest it's the tenor of Jimmy Hamilton, who sounds superb on the instrument on this date.
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