Rugged Jungle Completely Unreleased Live Recordings from 1972-73, from Carnegie Hall, NYC as well as Winnipeg, Canada. This album features some of the most dark, raw late Ellington ever released.
About the Artist
By the time of his passing, he was considered amongst the worlds greatest composers and musicians. The French government honored him with their highest award, the Legion of Honor, while the government of the United States bestowed upon him the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He played for the royalty and for the common people and by the end of his 50-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide. He was The Duke, Duke Ellington.
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born into the world on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Dukes parents, Daisy Kennedy Ellington and James Edward Ellington, served as ideal role models for young Duke, and taught him everything from proper table manners to an understanding of the emotional power of music. Dukes first piano lessons came around the age of seven or eight and appeared not to have had that much lasting effect upon him. It seemed as if young Duke was more inclined to baseball at a young age. Duke got his first job selling peanuts at Washington Senators baseball games. This was the first time Duke was placed as a "performer" for a crowd and had to first get over his stage fright. At the age of 14, Duke began sneaking into Frank Hollidays poolroom. His experiences from the poolroom taught him to appreciate the value in mixing with a wide range of people. As Dukes piano lessons faded into the past, Duke began to show a flare for the artistic. Duke attended Armstrong! Manual Training School to study commercial art instead of going to an academics-oriented school. Duke began to seek out and listen to ragtime pianists in Washington and, during the summers, in Philadelphia or Atlantic City, where he and his mother vacationed . While vacationing in Asbury Park, Duke heard of a hot pianist named Harvey Brooks. At the end of his vacation, Duke sought Harvey out in Philadelphia where Harvey showed Duke some pianistic tricks and shortcuts. Duke later recounted that, "When I got home I had a real yearning to play. I hadnt been able to get off the ground before, but after hearing him I said to myself, Man youre going to have to do it." Thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born.
Duke was taken under the wings of Oliver "Doc" Perry and Louis Brown, who taught Duke how to read music and helped improve his overall piano playing skills. Duke found piano playing jobs at clubs and cafes throughout the Washington area. Three months shy of graduation, Duke dropped out of school and began his professional music career.
In late 1917, Duke formed his first group: The Dukes Serenaders. Between 1918 and 1919, Duke made three significant steps towards independence. First, he moved out of his parents home and into a home he bought for himself. Second, Duke became his own booking agent for his band. By doing so, Ellingtons band was able to play throughout the Washington area and into Virginia for private society balls and embassy parties. Finally, Duke married Edna Thompson and on March 11, 1919, Mercer Kennedy Ellington was born.
In 1923, Duke left the security that Washington offered him and moved to New York. Through the power of radio, listeners throughout New York had heard of Duke Ellington, making him quite a popular musician. It was also in that year that Duke made his first recording. Ellington and his renamed band, The Washingtonians, established themselves during the prohibition era by playing at places like the Exclusive Club, Connies Inn, the Hollywood Club (Club Kentucky), Ciros, the Plantation Club, and most importantly the Cotton Club. Thanks to the rise in radio receivers and the industry itself, Dukes band was broadcast across the nation live on "From the Cotton Club." The bands music, along with their popularity, spread rapidly.
In 1928, Ellington and Irving Mills signed an agreement in which Mills produced and published Ellingtons music. Recording companies like Brunswick, Columbia, and Victor came calling. Dukes band becam
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This disc is clearly dubbed from cassette. That is horrible. And it sounds like it was recorded from the audience, although the prominence of Joe Benjamin's bass might prove that it is a very strange board mix.
All of this is pretty miserable. Harlem Suite cuts in about halfway through - why bother? There are many other recordings of the piece. But this CD gives a real picture of what a "Late Ellington" concert was like. And the new piece, Ac - Ac, featuring Geezil Minerve, is a minor triumph. Duke in the seventies, in HIS seventies, CONFRONTING the seventies! Like a track from a lost Ellington CTI album...creating a link between the Jungle Music of the '20s, the kind of Jungle - y 1940's music (parts of Black Brown and Beige, Ko - Ko, forgotten pieces like Brazillai Lew...) and the present. Would that there was more such!
Should you buy this? Count your Ellington discs. If you have around 20, definitely not. If you have around 50, probably not. If you have over 100, definitely! Duke's playing is amazing, and Happy Reunion and La Plus Belle Africaine give us poignant late glimpses of great pieces and of great people (Gonsalves, Carney). This shoddy artifact is also a priceless one.