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The Essential Duke Ellington
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The Essential Duke Ellington
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|1||East St. Louis Toodle-Oo - Duke Ellington & His Washingtonians|
|2||Black and Tan Fantasy - Duke Ellington & His Washingtonians|
|3||Take It Easy - Duke Ellington|
|4||Hot and Bothered - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra|
|5||The Mooche - Mills' Ten Black Berries|
|6||Rockin' In Rhythm - Duke Ellington & His Harlem Footwarmers|
|7||Creole Rhapsody - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|8||It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra|
|9||Creole Love Call - Duke Ellington|
|10||Sophisticated Lady - Duke Ellington|
|11||Drop Me Off In Harlem - Duke Ellington|
|12||Solitude - Duke Ellington|
|13||In a Sentimental Mood - Duke Ellington|
|14||Back Room Romp - Rex Stewart & His 52nd St. Stompers|
|15||Clouds In My Heart - Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators|
|16||Echoes of Harlem - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra|
|17||Caravan - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|18||Blue Reverie - Cootie Williams & his Rug Cutters|
|19||Diminuendo In Blue - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|20||Crescendo in Blue - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|1||I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra|
|2||Pyramid - Duke Ellington|
|3||Prelude to a Kiss - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra|
|4||Tired Socks - Johnny Hodges & his Orchestra|
|5||Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|6||Ko-Ko - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|7||Don't Get Around Much Anymore - Duke Ellington|
|8||Cotton Tail - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|9||Take the "A" Train - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|10||Harlem Air-Shaft - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|11||Do Nothin' 'Til You Hear from Me - Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra|
|12||Satin Doll - Duke Ellington|
|13||Perdido - Duke Ellington|
|14||Come Sunday - Duke Ellington|
|15||Jeep's Blues - Duke Ellington|
|16||Black Beauty - Duke Ellington|
|17||Arabesque Cookie - Duke Ellington|
This is the ultimate 2-CD look at one of the best composers, jazzmen AND bandleaders ever: Take the "A" Train; Caravan; Satin Doll; Perdido; Mood Indigo; Cotton Tail; Prelude to a Kiss; Black and Tan Fantasy; Sophisticated Lady; The Mooche; Solitude; Creole Love Call 37 essentials!
Duke Ellington recorded for so many labels and went through so many stylistic phases, any attempt to boil down his "essence" will inevitably come up short. So it goes with this two-disc collection. While containing a wealth of gems from Columbia's huge Duke catalog, as well as some early efforts for Brunswick, it does not represent such defining works as the late-'30s/early-'40s songs gathered on RCA's Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band and The Far East Suite, Prestige's Carnegie Hall Concerts, January 1943, Blue Note's supertrio album Money Jungle, and Fantasy's The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. That said, this 37-song set offers a great ride through the ages, powered by such classics as "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Creole Love Call," "Caravan," "Mood Indigo," "Cotton Tail" and "Come Sunday" featuring such immortal soloists as Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart and the never-to-be-underrated Ellington. Even after all this time, the transcendent genius of "Ko-Ko" still manages to spin you around the room in delight. --Lloyd Sachs
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 4.98 x 5.64 x 1.75 inches; 4 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Sony Legacy
- Item model number : 2110883
- Original Release Date : 2005
- Run time : 2 hours and 9 minutes
- Date First Available : January 29, 2007
- Label : Sony Legacy
- ASIN : B0009RQSC8
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #20,389 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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Here is the problem with most Duke compilations: until very recently, a fairly complete overview of Ellington's ENTIRE career was nearly impossible. In the early days of jazz, many musicians, especially black musicians, got the shaft with recording contracts. Consequently, many would jump ship to other labels to get a better deal. Ellington recorded for over a dozen different labels. Well, nearly all of those labels became defunct, and were later absorbed by bigger companies. So, in order to get an Ellington compilation that's somewhat complete, you would have to buy something from Sony/Columbia/Legacy and another from BMG/RCA. Those two companies owned the vast bulk of Ellingtonia. Well, in late 2004, Sony acquired distribution of the BMG catalog. Which means Sony controls nearly all of Ellington's output. As far as i know, this is the only CD collection out there of this post-merger thing that CAN condense nearly his whole career into a comprehensive set (without buying one of those dubious sounding bootlegs out there, imported from other countries...RUN from the Proper UK box set).
Ok, now on to the SOUND of the music. When compiling and remastering music from the pre-tape era (everything up until the late '40's), engineers need to combat surface noise (distortion, clicks, pops, hiss). Generally, the older the recording, the more surface noise on the original master. The worse the surface noise, the more distracting it is while listening to the music. However, as you remove surface noise, you also lose a little bit of the clarity and "airiness" to the music. So, engineers have to walk a fine line between making the music sound tolerable by removing noise, but not take off too much, so as to lose the punch & clarity to the music. In the early CD era, they failed miserably. In the last 5 or 6 years, nearly all results have been good, but some better than others.
So, on to this collection. The tracks on this collection certainly have less surface noise than any other Ellington collection i've heard. And although they've done a pretty good job maintaining much of the musical integrity, i believe the sound has been a little over-reduced. A little too much of the clarity is lost. If you weren't comparing it (which i was doing) to other semi-recent collections, you may not notice the difference. So, yes, there is very little noise, but the music sounds a tad too rounded, and not as vibrant. Also, this set has deepened the bass some, but it seems a little unnatural, and takes away from a tad of the clarity of the bottom end of the music.
Maybe some of the difference in sound from different compilations also comes from this: In the liner notes to this collection, it says that songs have been remastered from 78's from private collections. Nowhere does it mention "original masters/parts" or anything like that. However, on a couple box sets that came out around 2000 from BMG & Columbia, it is indicated that THOSE were remastered from orginal metal & glass parts & some early safety tests. Good quality 78's should have less surface noise than the original parts, but slightly less clarity, as they are at least one generation removed from the masters.
My personal alternative is the two collections that RCA & Columbia put out around 2000 (Highlights from the Centennial Edition & The Duke On Columbia, respectively). They were each 3 discs, with no duplicating tracks (although a small handful of the songs are the same, they were recorded at different times, so the arrangements are different). They have a hair more surface noise, but the clarity is a bit higher than with Essential Ellingon. These are the ones that were remastered from the original parts.
NOTE: In one or two song cases, such as Creole Rhapsody, there is SO much noise, that it is unlistenable to me. On the Centennial Edition, there is so much crackling, i can't even listen to it. On the Essential, most of the noise has been removed, but greatly at the expense of the music. It sounds like listening to the song with your fingers in your ears.
So, here's the thing. If you really do want a small collection spanning his entire career, do not hesitate in buying this one. Essential Ellington is definitely the one to get...for that purpose. The sound is very good, and the selections are pretty comprehensive. However, if you want to expand your listening, go with those two 3 disc sets i wrote about above. They have the edge in clarity and punch (and give you more Ellington). Get them on here or Half.com used, and you'll save.
With that out of the way, having been chewed out recently for not reviewing something in 140 characters or less, I have received my first Duke Ellington CD from my wife for Christmas. As I get older, also being a musician -guitar, keyboards of my own originals - I find my taste doesn't abandon my love for the heaviest metal, but it does get very curious about the past, and after hearing so much and understanding how much he was admired by other greats, like Kenny Burrell, the superb jazz guitarist, Steely Dan, and Stevie Wonder, not to mention Chet Atkins and Les Paul, I wanted to check him out for myself.
Wow. Ellington is worth every accolade ever bestowed on him. From the flapper days of the late '20's until his death he composed an enormous volume of original beautiful jazz, far too deep and complex in its arrangements and tonal variations for a younger version of myself to understand. This is a beginner's view, and this CD is a very good introduction to probably one of the greatest American composers in history.
The album opens on the first disc with the legendary "East St. Louis Toodle-oo", also covered quite nicely by Steely Dan on their great album "Pretzel Logic", which may be the first time rockers heard Ellington. The secret to the Ellington formula is right there for us to hear - thick luscious horn and woodwind arrangements that create a tonal world all their own. It's spooky, smoky and captivating.
It's probably the adventurous nature of his composing that made him special. I am not familiar enough to recall too many individual tracks yet, but that's okay - it's a world of sound that sometimes I think was helped by the more primitive recording equipment, giving it the mystical quality and sense of the past that older recordings do. Remastered works clean up noise and in some fans' minds, sterilize the original integrity of the music. I will not go down that road, at least yet, although a triple box set of Django Reinhardt I bought a few years back is amazing in its clarity.
Stylistically, we have the great jazz of the '20's and '30's before big band swing had its heyday, with more popular arrangements that weren't as complex, being styled for radio and live performances. Ellington was cutting edge, and along with Louis Jordan in the 1940's, gave us the first hints of be-bop and in Jordan's case, rhythm and blues.
We can recognize a few tunes right off the bat: "Take the "A" Train", "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing", "Caravan" and "Cotton Tail", later brilliantly covered by Wes Montgomery. But my favorite track is also one of the most mysterious songs of all in terms of its chord structure and overall atmosphere, the closing song on the second disc, "Arabesque Cookie", an excursion into deepest and darkest Arabia, that could be in any mystical city of the region from centuries past. You can practically smell the smoke from hookahs, see mosques with their onion domes against a desert moon, a sky darker than any other location on earth and all the vibes you'd expect as part of a caravan on a trade route in Marco Polo's day. There is nothing like it.
I will be exploring a lot more of Duke Ellington and for those interested in our musical history, and I mean the best stuff, this is a great starting point.