In 2000 we offered a 2-CD set featuring music plus studio conversation from the April 1961 meeting of these two giants in New York. Now Blue Note has put out this single CD containing just the music from that historic event-all 17 master takes ( Black and Tan Fantasy; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; I'm Just a Lucky So and So; Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me , etc.) with superb remastered sound!
For starters, The Great Summit produced not only itself, both with this Master Takes set and the two-CD Complete Sessions, but also a later summit, Count Basie and Ellington's tandem showdown, First Time. On its own, though, The Great Summit needs no later chapters to justify its celebrated standing in jazz annals. This was and is terrifically important music: Ellington is in grand form between recording the Paris Blues soundtrack and cutting ace sessions like Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins and Duke Ellington and John Coltrane in late 1962. For his part, Armstrong was on leave as well, resting up between ceaseless tours as a bona fide jazz superstar and veteran. So Ellington and Armstrong join hands, backed by the latter's band (Trummy Young on trombone, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Mort Herbert on bass, and Danny Barcelona on drums), tackling 17 of Duke's tunes. Armstrong's sweet, rolling vocal growl gives the tunes endless hugs, just as his band both cuts plump solos and then backs way off so Ellington can throw down alternately swinging and unapologetically modernist solos himself. --Andrew Bartlett