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jazzfan
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Duke Ellington's Birthday

This Sunday is Duke Ellington's birthday. To help you celebrate this wonderful occasion WKCR-FM is having their annual Duke Ellington Birthday broadcast. Starting at 6:00pm this Saturday, April 28th and running until Monday morning at 8:30am.

And the best part of this celebration is that everyone can enjoy it by listening to WKCR via their real time web stream. Just go to WKCR-FM and click on the "live broadcast" link located in the lower right hand corner.

I realize that internet streaming audio is not up to audiophile standards, however, Duke Ellington's music is "beyond catagory" and more than makes up for the less than perfect sound quality.

So log or tune in and help say Happy Birthday Duke!!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

I suspect you also noticed, Ralph, that there is a vinyl reissue of the two record 70th Birthday Concert on the market these days. I've still got the original, it sounds fine, and I've backed it up to CD against the day I screw it up some way. Those who don't have the original need to get the new release. Happiness is owning the most Ellington music one can find.

Happy Birthday, Duke, and Thanks.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

I think it is time for both Cheapskate and Jazzfan to give us their lists of their top 5-10 cds/lps of Duke's R2D4. I don't want to put anyone on the spot, but this helps me start getting into his music in the right way.

This may be an impossible task, but I think you guys are up to it.

Listening to the WKCR stream through ITunes and it sound decent. I tried Real One but only got the left channel.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

OK, Jim, it'll take a little while to winnow down my list, but I'll get one out to you in a day or so. I'm surprized your collection isn't heavy on Ellington in one way or another already - performances by the Ellington band or perfomances of Ellington tunes by others. How you could have such fine Basie stuff and be short on Ellington is amazing.

To get you started, rush out and get the recent pressing of "...and his mother called him Bill" an RCA Victor originally released in 1967 as a tribute to Billy Strayhorn. It's number one on my list. All Strayhorn tunes. Half of loving Ellington is loving Billy Strayhorn. You'll love this record.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

We have an excellent used LP store north in the Buckhead section of Atl. I will be up their tomorrow seeing what Duke treasures they may have.

Thanks.

ps You know us Andy Williams fans are somewhat challenged!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

OK, Jim here's a bit of a list to get you started with Ellington. It only goes back to about the '40's, but I think all of the stuff is available now either on CD or Vinyl. I have some older stuff going back as far as the late 20's when the Ellington band included Fred Guy on banjo doing "East St. Louis Toodle-Ooo" but you probably won't find that stuff anywhere, unless, of course..........

The "Ellington 70th Birthday Concert" set that I mentioned in my response to Ralph is something of a retrospective with the 60's band playing just about the full scope of Duke's stuff. Very jolly live performance. Two record set out now from Pure Pleasure.

I got a Columbia remastered 3 CD set some time ago that covers early 40's recordings. It is titled "Duke Ellington - The Blanton-Webster Band" I think it might still be available.

"Piano in the Background" is a full band recording from 1960 available on Columbia CD. Mostly tunes you'll know featuring Hodges, Procope, Gonzalves etc. and with both Duke and Billy Strayhorn on piano

"Piano in the Foreground", the companion to the above from Columbia is piano trio stuff with a mix of tunes you know and probably don't as well as some improvisations.

"Dukes Big Four", a Pablo release from 1973 is available analog and digital. It features Ellington, Joe Pass, Ray Brown and Louis Bellson. All familiar Ellington compositions

Two Verve titles, "Side By Side" and "Back to Back" feature Duke and Johnny Hodges with Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, Strayhorn, and others sittiing in. My copies are vinyl, that may be the only format available.

As a pianist, you may enjoy two piano trio recordings which are, I think, available in various formats, "This One's for Blanton" with RAy Brown and "Money Jungle" with Charlie Mingus and Max Roach.

A really big band recording and one that is fun for audiophiles is a Columbia release on vinyl entitled "Ellington Jazz Party in Stereo". The band is joined by about a dozen symphonic percussionists playing everything from vibes to glockenspiels and everything in between. Enormous sound stage and all the tonal tests you might want. Also musically, lots of fun

I have a couple favorite tributes to Duke by some jazz greats that came out on Pablo: "Memories of Duke" with Clark Terry, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Jack Wilson, and Ray Serverino, and "A Celebration of Duke" with Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Sarah Vaughn, and Mickey Roker. All Ellington music, of course.

That ought to get you started. Let me know if you liked them. I sure do. The best, however in my book, is still. "...and His Mother Called Him Bill". If I could have only one, that would be it.

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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

Fred Kaplan played the recently remastered Masterpieces By Ellington CD on Blue Note for me a few weeks ago. It was the Duke's first LP (1950), so he spent a lot of time stretching arrangements he'd condensed to meet 78rpm disc side restrictions. It's mono, but the sound is sublime.

The core recording, as released on LP was "Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Lady," "The Tattooed Bride," and "Solitude." The CD includes three songs recorded later: "Vagabonds," "Smada," and "Rock Skippin' at the Blue Note." The band is top-notch: Johnny Hodges, Cat Anderson, Ray Nance, Lawrence Brown, Quentin Jackson, Sonny Greer, Mercer Ellington, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, and Wendell Marsh. This one's a must have for people like me who think they know their Ellington.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

More great info.

At my FAV used record store in in ATL, FantasyLand @ Buckhead, I found a used RCA Vistor CD of Duke Ellington Greatest Hits 1996 ($7). The CD section for Duke was all of 3 CDs, surprisingly, or not so, I guess.

The LP section was sad except for one sealed LP that I kicked myself for not buying half way home. I will go back. Not sure what it was, but heck, it was sealed for Pete's Sake! Sorry Pete.

The selections range from 1928 to 1967 recordings and include:
Take The A Train 1941
Mood Indigo 1945
I'm Beginning To See The Light 1944
Sophisticated Lady 1945
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good 1941
Perdido 1942
Solitude 1941
I Can't Give You Anything But Love 1928
Prelude To A Kiss 1945
Drawing Room Blues 1946
Caravan 1945
In A Sentimental Mood 1945
It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)1945
Lover Man 1946
Lotus Blossom 1967

I thought this would be a good place to start. Great vocals on this disc with Kay Davis, Marion Cox, and Marie Ellington. Very nice.

Sounds really nice on my 20 cents/watt stereo! LOL

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

Don't have that one yet, Wes, but I will in a couple of days. Thanks.

jazzfan
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

Okay Jim here's my list.

A quick list of some worthwhile Duke Ellington recordings:

Duke Ellingon - Fargo, North Dakota November 7th, 1940

A classic live recording made by the famous Jack Towers at typical Ellington "dance" concert and featuring what many believe to be the greatest orchestra of Ellington's long career. This two disc set has been released on several different labels over the years. The one I own is on the Vintage Jazz Classics label and there is also one on the Stash label. The sound quality is surprisingly good considering the date of the recording and the fact that it was not at the time an "official" recording.

The Duke Ellington Songbook - Ella Fitzgerald with the Duke Ellington Orchestra

This one's right up your alley Jim! Ella is in fine form as she sings and scats her way through Ellington classics including Take The A Train, I'm Beginning To See The Light, I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good, Perdido, and Caravan. Side 4 of this double LP set features the 16 minute "Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald" suite. The set is a re-release of 1957 Norman Granz produced sessions and came out Verve in 1980. I'm pretty sure these sessions have been released on CD so you'll have to do a quick search on the All Music Guide site to get the details.

Duke Ellington - Braggin' In Brass - The Immortal 1938 Year

This two LP set from 1989 was part of Columbia's now defunct "Portrait Masters Series and, of course is another reissue of earlier material. The personnel of the Orchestra is similar to that on the Fargo disc above but is missing the two major players who made the early 1940's lineup so famous - Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton. However, even without those two stars the music on these LPs is quite delightful.

Duke Ellington - The Blanton Webster Band

This is much maligned reissue on the RCA Bluebird label of the classic 1940 and 1941 version of the Orchestra which did feature both Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton. Upon the release of this three CD set in 1986 that was a great deal of controversy regarding the sound quality of the digital transfers and the lack of alternate takes but that's more of a tempest in a teapot when one considers how important this music really is.

Duke Ellington 1940 and Duke Ellington 1941

Prior to the release of The Blanton Webster Band these two double LP sets which are part of the Smithsonian Collection (and released on the RCA Special Products label) were the one of the only ways to get hold of the material recorded for RCA in 1940 and 1941. Of course, there are no digital transfer issues with these all analog releases.

Duke Ellington - Black, Brown and Beige (The 1944 1946 Band Recordings)

Another three CD set of reissues on the RCA Bluebird label this one covers Duke's orchestra during the war years. While Jimmy Blanton and Ben Webster are no longer in the orchestra (Blanton died way too young in 1942 and Webster left for "greener" pastures) there is still plenty of great music on these discs.

Duke Ellington - Ellington At Newport 1956 (Complete)

This two CD set on the Columbia/Legacy label is the definitive release of the famous 1956 appearance of the Orchestra at the Newport Jazz Festival. It features the famous 27 chorus tenor sax solo by Paul Gonsalves which helped to put Ellington back in the jazz spotlight for the remainder of his long career. This set should be high on every list since this 1999 release is still available.

Duke Ellington - All Star Road Band

Like the Fargo set above, this recording catches the Orchestra on a typical night in 1957 with the Orchestra playing a dance. Ellington's banter with the audience is captured to great effect and displays Ellington's true role as leader of this great ensemble. A real pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.

Duke Ellington - The Great Paris Concert

Most of the material on this two CD set on the Atlantic label (1989) is from a 1963 concert at the Olympia Theatre. Also included are 10 selections which were originally released on LP as "Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits". These discs are chock full of Ellington hits along with some excellent extended pieces and less well known (but still quite good) material.

That list should keep you busy from quite awhile.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

A big thanks to you and Clay for your lists. You can tell you guys always handed in your homework assignments in time and well done.

I have really been enjoying the Ellington Greatest Hits CD. I am especially interested in how good the 1928 recordings sounds. I was very surprised. I think Edison was listed on the engineering credits! LOL I have some Nat King Cole from the 40's not this good.

How cool would it have been to hear Mozart, Beethoven, List, Wagner, et al playing their own music live. We needed our current technology sooner.

Now we've gone from live performance being king to recorded music truncated to MP3's. One large step for man...one huge leap backward for mankind. I say this listening to DMP's Warren Bernhardt, Amelia's Song, in 2 channel DSD. We get it.

jazzfan
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

Here's a quote from Wikipedia:


Quote:
Duke Ellington and His Orchestra made some accidental stereo recordings on February 3, 1932 for RCA Victor. It was a fairly standard practice in that era to record using more than one microphone and disc cutter. The various versions could be compared, to see which had the best microphone positioning. It also allowed for safety masters in case something happened to the original. Even through the records are fairly rare, a collector had both versions and noticed that while they appeared to be the same performance, the sound mix was different on each. When the two recordings were synchronized, it became stereo.

Although the above quote claims that the stereo recording was accidental, that's not what I've alway heard. Supposedly the stereo recording were an intentional experiment and not an accident. In any event it does show that Ellington was quite aware of the recording process and did make an effort to get the best sound possible.

About twenty years ago there was a series of CDs released called "Jazz Classics in Digital Stereo" on the BBC label which featured the early recordings of several of jazz's founding fathers such as Louie Armstrong, Fats Waller, Bix Biederbecke and Duke Ellington. The CDs present "stereo" versions of early jazz recordings, sourced from the original 78s and converted to stereo by the Australian sound engineer Robert Parker using a process that he developed. These old recordings are given new life and sound very good with a fairly high degree of clarity and liveliness plus excellent enhancement of the low frequencies. Well worth hunting down if only to hear whether or not you like how they sound.

The Duke Ellington disc features 16 tracks spanning the years 1927 to 1934 and has some very nice and informative liner notes.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

Thanks, Jim, for pushing Ralph's announcement thread further in the direction of the music. That really is our common ground here, and we seem to visit it too seldom.

Inspired by your buying trip, I took time out from other stuff today to visit my local used vinyl source and picked up a couple of winners (at least I hope): "Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker Carnegie Hall Concert Vol 2" and "Byrd at the Gate" Charlie Byrd Trio plus Clark Terry and Sheldon Powell. Gotta scrub 'em up and see how they sound. Sometimes it seems we forget that that's what the gear is for.

jazzfan
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday


Quote:
Thanks, Jim, for pushing Ralph's announcement thread further in the direction of the music. That really is our common ground here, and we seem to visit it too seldom.

Inspired by your buying trip, I took time out from other stuff today to visit my local used vinyl source and picked up a couple of winners (at least I hope): "Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker Carnegie Hall Concert Vol 2" and "Byrd at the Gate" Charlie Byrd Trio plus Clark Terry and Sheldon Powell. Gotta scrub 'em up and see how they sound. Sometimes it seems we forget that that's what the gear is for.

No Clay, audiophiles may sometimes forget but true music lovers never forget what the gear is for. Plus I thought that my original announcement was about music. Sure I understand that radio streamed via the internet is far from an audiophile source but for those forum members who can live with less optimal sound in order to hear some great music it is indeed all about the music.

Which isn't to say that I don't agree that Jim's query did help to propel the thread in a very positive direction. Trying to get a handle on the recorded output of many jazz's more prolific giants can be a daunting task for the neophyte and I'm always glad to lend a hand. Only negative I can see is that all those fine Ellington recommendations are buried in thread without the proper title, you know something like "Recommended Duke Ellington Recordings" or some other obtuse reference.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

In listening to Columbia'a WKCR I thought it was really neat to hear clicks and pops from the vinyl they were playing time to time. That is real for me. If they weren't they sure fooled me.

When we are talking about an educational experience, quality is not the key component. This was and is about access to information, the Duke and his music. Well worth the time spent even on streamed radio. This is just a new vehicle that replaced the AM radio that I grew up listening to as a kid, WLS in Chicago. Clay will remember. After listening, running down to Cook's Record Shop and buying the 45's. The good old days.

Clay and all of us should find the used vinyl shops in each of our areas. There are great treasures to be found for sure. It is great fun rummaging around the bins looking for that one treasure.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Duke Ellington's Birthday

"...I thought that my original announcement was about music. "

Of course it was, Ralph, which is why I said, "...further.." (or should that have been farther?)

"Thanks, Jim, for pushing Ralph's announcement thread FURTHER in the direction of the music."

I figure it's safe to assume you're always talking about the music even when you're into the 21st Century techniques for getting to it. I thought you knew that. Didn't intend to slight you.

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