29 nov. 2008


Ellington. And His Mother Called Him Bill (1967)

After Strayhorn's death Duke recorded this tribute album of mostly Strayhorn tunes--no Lush Life, Chelsea Bride, or Take the A Train though. I'm getting to know this music now. This is not the kind of thing that brought me to jazz in the first place, but once I'm here I'm glad it exists. There's plenty of Johnny Hodges, which is always a plus. Not all the tunes are that memorable, though, and I tire of the the wah wah mutes on the brass.

Duke was never really about pure swing or improvised solos, but about orchestral textures.

6 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

I love the way you put that, Jonathan: "This is not the kind of thing that brought me to jazz in the first place, but once I'm here I'm glad it exists."

What was it that brought you to jazz in the very very first place? For me, it was one part Kind of Blue, one part My Favorite Things, and one part a brilliant concert by Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie. (All connected to the opportunity I had to do a jazz show at KZSU.)

Ken_Chen dijo...

This is a great album. As you probably know, I think the last track was Duke just playing for himself while the band was packing up and only happened to get recorded because the mics were still on.

Jonathan dijo...

What brought me into jazz was one single cut: Coleman Hawkins's Body and Soul when I was about 11-years old. It was a life-changing experience.

Andrew Shields dijo...

That is one of the best possible starting points! But of course it also sets a very high standard. So much jazz is "downhill from there," so to speak.

John dijo...

Most of Ellington's music is very much about swing and improvised solos. He hired tremendous solo improvisers his whole career, and he wrote "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." I'm not sure what "pure" swing is, but, while his orchestral textures were nonpareil, his trio recordings are terrific too.

Jonathan dijo...

You are right, Ellington did have good improvisors in his band and did swing. What I should have said was:

I've always felt that he didn't have the best pure improvisors in his band. Johnny Hodges is one of my favorite players, but I think he improvises better on some material where he is the band leader. Somehow he doesn't get to stretch out as much in Ellington's band. I love Ben Webster too, so that would be another one proving me wrong.

As far as swing, I feel that the band didn't swing as much with Sonny Greer in the drum chair. Later incarnations of the band with other drummer, a bit more.

Stated positively, I am happy to listen to Ellington even when not much improv is really going on, and when it isn't swinging hard Count Basie style.