15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2002
Ellington was always modest about his pianistic ability, and the few albums he made featuring the piano are often criticised as insubstantial efforts. This CD, a compilation of small group recordings made between 1932 - 1967 for RCA, shows him to have been a fine performer.
Tracks 1 - 2 are 1945 duets with Billy Strayhorn. Both are delightful, with "Tonk" having strong hints of Shostakovich's "jazz" style. 3-4 are trios from 1946. Track 5 from 1932 shows Ellington the strider, essentially derivative of Luckey Roberts and Willie the Lion Smith but without their technique. 6 - 8 are pleasant medium paced swing solos from 1941. Track 9, the best of the solo tracks, is a beautiful 1967 tribute to Strayhorn, catching Ellington at his most intimate and romantic.
The heart of the CD is tracks 10 - 18, the classic Ellington - Blanton duets of 1941. They are rather a mixed bag - Blanton's bowed melody statement on "Body and Soul" will not be to everyone's taste, but they are important recordings.
The final three tracks, from the 1965 Pittsburg Jazz Festival are fun but not essential Ellington. Track 19 is an Ellington / Hines duet, a respectful meeting with none of the potential fireworks delivered. Track 20 features some of Ellington's latterday stride along with a more typically rhapsodic central section, whilst the final track is a trio version of Ellington's familiar piano introduction, which comes to a halt just as one expects the orchestra to join in.
A good introduction to the evolution of Ellington's piano style - recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2014
Sound is not perfect, of course, but this cd is a must, mainly for the duos with Blanton.