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Piano in the Foreground Extra tracks, Original recording remastered

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

Product Description

In the liner notes to this reissue of Duke's 1961 LP, Joe Goldberg says, "If Ellington did nothing but play the piano, he would be a giant." Duke wows with I Can't Get Started; Cong-Go; Body and Soul; Summertime; Springtime in Africa , and more-including eight bonus recordings from '57!

Duke Ellington's piano style influenced generations of pianists, from Thelonious Monk to Randy Weston. This 1961 trio recording, with his orchestra's rhythm section of drummer Sam Woodyard and Aaron Bell, clearly unveils the maestro's powerful touch, black-and-tan chords, and unstoppable swing, all often overshadowed in the work of his bigger bands. The standard "Body and Soul" shows Ellington's debt to James P. Johnson's Harlem stride style, while "Blues for Jerry," recalls Count Basie's Kansas City grooves. "Cong-go" masterfully marries Nigerian highlife and Cuban congorhythms, while Gershwin's "Summertime" and "Springtime in Africa" become surprising, evocative tone poems that foreshadow the avant-garde abstractions of the '70s. There's also a deeply personal rendering of Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom," which was not included on the original LP. The last six bonus tracks come from a pair of 1957 sessions with Jimmy Woode on bass. All in all, this disc is a worthy addition to Ellington's other keyboard classics, Money Jungle and Piano Reflections. --Eugene Holley, Jr.

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. I Can't Get Started 4:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Cong-Go 4:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Body and Soul 4:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Blues For Jerry 4:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Fontainebleau Forest 2:50$0.69  Buy MP3 
  6. Summertime 3:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. It's Bad To Be Forgotten 3:19$0.69  Buy MP3 
  8. A Hundred Dreams Ago 2:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. So 4:31$0.69  Buy MP3 
10. Searching (Pleading For Love) 1:47$0.69  Buy MP3 
11. Springtime In Africa 3:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Lotus Blossom 3:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. All The Things You Are (Take 1) 3:59$0.69  Buy MP3 
14. All The Things You Are (Take 2) 3:49$0.69  Buy MP3 
15. Piano Improvisation No. 2 3:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Piano Improvisation No. 3 2:46$0.69  Buy MP3 
17. Piano Improvisation No. 4 1:51$0.69  Buy MP3 
18. Piano Improvisation No. 1 9:45$0.69  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 27, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Columbia/Legacy
  • ASIN: B0002J58OM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,967 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael F. Hopkins on August 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Eloquent expression, energetic inspiration, iridescent swing. Welcome to the world of Duke Ellington. Pioneer orchestrator, master composer, musical colossus of the 20th century, and beyond. African American genius of the Big Band and more, he spent a lifetime showcasing the world as his podium. For his song, the stage is still set, players from all walks carrying forth the next act, all vowing to never forget.

Bearing all that in mind, come on in to one of the most intimate, magical sessions ever conceived by the Duke. A rare classic from 1961 (with equally rare bonus tracks from 1957), this is a trio setting which features Ellington at the piano, and what a treat it is! With drummer Sam Woodyard providing subtle nuance, and bassist Aaron Bell (Jimmy Woode on the bonus tracks) threading supple tapestries, the Duke unleashes a bountiful program of standards and originals which cuts loose with a dancing intensity. From the nimble caress of "I Can't Get Started" to a prowling, grimly smiling deconstruction of "Summertime" tipping its hat to Cecil Taylor, you feel the very air around you become charged with spirit, with promise.

Listen on, through the sweep and circumstance of "Body And Soul" and the hip-hugging boogie of
"Cong-Go", through the luscious, beckoning quiet of "Springtime In Africa", to the sheer color & magnificence of "All The Things You Are" (the second take of which begins with a hearty dissonant nod to Thelonious Monk!}.
The finish is not one, but four types of "Piano Improvisation" which run the gamut from salient mood portraits to a honky tonk vignette gleefully brandishing the Duke's roots in the Harlem Stride of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. In the final hop, jitterbugs and straight suits all waltz together into the jump of Destiny.

At album's end, you are one with the dance, its melodies lingering on, ever on...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By F. Hagan on September 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
There is something inescapably elegant about a piano accompanied by a stand up base and a drum set. The traditional piano lead ensemble is at the heart of groovy jazz and the big band arrangement, and an example of the many reasons that one of the greatest composer/arranger, and conductor's of the 20th century referred to himself, depreciatively, as "the piano player." It has been argued that the real instrument he played was his orchestra, and it might be added that Billy Strayhorn normally played the piano in recording sessions, therefore, this newest offering of a Duke Ellington compilation, "Piano In The Foreground (Legacy)," is something uniquely special.

It is the Duke, himself, playing with a minimalist ensemble, so that the full measure of his musicianship can be enjoyed. These session recordings, taking place in New York and Los Angeles from 1956 to 1961, assemble material from several harder to find sources, with excellent bonus offerings for the fortunate consumer.

Dancers who enjoy the groove sound will certainly appreciate "I Can't Get Started," "It's Bad to Be Forgotten," "A Hundred Dreams Ago," and "So." The first track mentioned being this reviewer's personal pick for most played out of simple listening enjoyment. This is a great mood album, and the piano captures the emotional intent of each piece, as evidenced in great arrangements of "Body and Soul" and "Blues for Jerry." There's some great rhythmic vibes to be experienced in "Cong-Go" and "Springtime in Africa." The majority of the tracks are Ellington compositions, with only a smattering of Gershwin, Hammerstein, and a few others.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jive rhapsodist on February 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD
You all know the received wisdom: "Ellington plays piano, but his real instrument is the band". True enough in the '20's and '30's. True through most of the '40's. But 1947 (?)'s The Clothed Woman and New York City Blues introduced a new rub into the Ellington world. From then on, many of his most radical, searching ideas would be expressed through the piano, and the piano only. Did he not figure out an approach to scoring these ideas, or did he see these domains as essentially separate? We can't really know...but meanwhile there's this modest masterpiece of a CD, by far the finest piano record he ever made (well, there aren't so many to choose from, but still...). Summertime (track 6) goes quite far into Cecil Taylor territory, and is probably the high point of the session, but it's all pretty fantastic. Searching (track 10) is an idea he would keep fussing with - it's somewhat connected to 1950's Janet and shows up again on one of his last sessions - the duo with Ray Brown. The change in his playing between this session (1961) and that one (1972) is fascinating. His playing is much more incisive there, but his touch isn't nearly so beautiful. So (track 9) is one of those rare pieces where Ellington seems to almost let down the elegant mask - it has something rueful, nostalgic and indominable about it. Understated, funky and beautiful. This one's a no-brainer: get it or have an unfillable gap in your collection!
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Format: Audio CD
If you've picked up the most recent edition of the Ellington-Basie two-band collaboration, you've read in the accompanying booklet the account of the Count suddenly becoming bashful and scarce when it was his turn to play with the Duke looking on. Of course, Basie was no mean piano player himself, as Norman Granz realized when, in the 1970s, he paired him with Oscar Peterson ("Josh and Satch"). But Duke could practically be "beyond category" (his term) when it came to his piano playing as well as his composing, arranging, and orchestra leading. He'll remind you a lot of Thelonious and even of Horace Silver in his percussive approach to the piano (which is, after all, a percussion instrument), at one point ("Summertime") attacking it with, as a previous reviewer has suggested, the abandon of a Cecil Taylor. The next moment he'll remind you of his roots--not the Kansas City boogie that caught Basie's ear but the bright right-hand octaves of Fatha and the New York stride style of James P., Fats, and Willie the Lion. But he's also capable of suggesting the nuance and subtlety--of harmony, voicings, and touch--of an Art Tatum (especially on "Body and Soul").

On some small group recordings--with Pops and especially with Coltrane--Duke could be sufficiently reserved, and repetitious, to raise questions in some listeners' minds about his chops and feel for the piano. But just listen to the accompaniment he supplies Paul Gonsalves' during the latter's solo on "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" ("Newport '56"), on which Duke demonstrates that he was practically as essential to the success of the most celebrated performance in jazz festival history as was Gonsalves.
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