In Grona Lund 1963
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Enjoy some seldom-heard tunes and the delight of hearing and feeling
the sound of this great orchestra up close!
This concert has never been released before!
Between the two sets, Ellington plays a long piece at the piano.
This is absolutely wonderful stuff that for all the technical expertise
now available simply couldn t be replicated today. You can t cut and paste
genius. --All About Jazz
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Anders Stefansen has done a splendid job in producing one of the finest Ellington concerts captured on tape. Additionally, Ken Steiner’s liner notes provide a very comprehensive background of the Ellington orchestra’s tour of Sweden.
1963 marked a new creative period for Ellington. His popularity, in the U.S. and abroad, was increasing, due to a string of best selling albums. In the past few years he’d recorded a series of albums collaborating with a range of musical legends. LPs recorded with Coltrane, Armstrong, Sinatra, Mingus and Max Roach were best sellers on the American and European charts.
Duke took advantage of this renewed popularity by scheduling a very aggressive international tour. His band never sounded better. Cootie Williams and Lawrence Brown had returned to the band after extended absences. They were augmented by a wide range of seasoned veterans including Ray Nance, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney and Sam Woodyard. Additionally, the young brilliant bassist, Ernie Shepherd had recently joined the band. His playing has been favorably compared to the legendary Ellington orchestra bassist, Jimmie Blanton.
The venue, Grona Lund, was ideal for the Ellington orchestra. It was a relaxed and charming atmosphere. The band played outside, in the garden area, during the day and played inside the large dance hall in the evening. The musical synergy between the band and the fans was amazing and the quality of the music reflected this phenonum.
Some of the musical highlights include an eight minute rendition of” Take the A Train”. Duke performs a brilliant extended solo that makes this classic sound fresh and vibrant. A rare treat is the band’s 21 minute performance of” Suite Thursday” in four movements. Solos by Ray Nance, Lawrence Brown, and Jimmy Hamilton elevate this composition to dizzying musical heights.
Celebrating Cootie William’s return after a two decade absence, the band delves into” Concerto for Cootie” and “Tootie for Cootie”. The legendary horn player’s solos are flawless and full of creative energy.
Next, the great Johnny Hodges is featured on two ballads,” The Star Crossed Lovers” and” Things Ain’t What They Used to be”. This jazz giant’s playing is nothing short of magnificent.
The second half of the show starts with an exciting six minute improvised piano solo by Duke. Listeners will marvel at his genius as he glides though this inspiring piece.
Johnny Hodges returns to lead the charge on” I Didn’t Know About You”,” All of Me” and Jeep’s Blues”. Paul Gonsalves, is next up with an inspiring solo on” In a Sentimental Mood”. Then Paul and Ray Nance get to demonstrate their up-tempo chops on”Mr.Gentle and Mr. Cool”.
Other standout performances include Harry Carney, Russell Procope and Lawrence Brown’s leads on” Mood Indigo” and Harry Carney’s playing on” Don’t get Around Much Anymore”.
The great Ray Nance concludes the concert with his marvelous vocal on the novelty/jam” One More Once”. What a triple “musical threat” he was, singer, violin and trumpet player extraordinaire. He also performed some brilliant dance moves on the band stand to the delight of the fans.
In Summary, this is one of the best Ellington concert releases to see the light of day.
Duke and his musicians are relaxed and having fun and the audience is providing great feedback.
The Ellington “musical stars” were perfectly aligned on June 8, 1963 in Tivoli.