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Duke Ellington, “The OKeh Ellington” (Sony, 1991—tracks recorded 1927-31)

Digesting the music of Duke Ellington's revolutionary "jungle" period is a complicated pursuit because he recorded multiple arrangements for a number of labels between 1927 and 1932. Sony owns his OKeh and Columbia cuts (found on these two CDs), BMG owns his Victor sides, and Decca owns his Brunswick and Vocalion work (issued on the three-CD Early Ellington). All of them contain readings of standout compositions like "Black and Tan Fantasy," "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," "Black Beauty," "The Mooche," "Mood Indigo," and "Rockin' in Rhythm." The OKeh package lacks versions of "Solitude" and "Creole Love Call," but offers some noteworthy exclusives: superb solo stride-piano versions of "Black Beauty" and "Swampy River"; Jabbo Smith's wonderful trumpet solo on a 1927 version of "Black and Tan Fantasy" as a game-day replacement for "indisposed" co-composer Bubber Miley; and the first recording of "The Mooche," with Miley in control and guitarist Lonnie Johnson augmenting an already formidable lineup that includes Tricky Sam Nanton, Barney Bigard, Harry Carney, and Johnny Hodges. Even when a star like trumpet-growl pioneer Miley moved on, Cootie Williams would more than fill the gap. Musically, Ellington brought jazz to new levels of sophistication, complexity, and emotional depth during this first great period, synthesizing the classic New Orleans sound with a vibrant theatrical element and a dynamic rhythmic impulse.

Disc: 1
East St. Louis Toodle-oo
Hop Head
Down In Our Alley Blues
What Can A Poor Fellow Do?
Black And Tan Fantasy
Chicago Stomp Down
Sweet Mama (Papa's Getting Mad)
Stack O'Lee Blues
Bugle Call Rag
Take It Easy
Jubilee Stomp
Harlem Twist (East St. Louis Toodle-oo)
Diga Diga Doo
Doin' The New Low Down
Black Beauty
Swampy River
The Mooche
Move Over
Hot And Bothered
The Blues With A Feelin'
Goin' To Town
Misty Mornin'
I Must Have That Man
Freeze And Melt
Mississippi Moan

Disc: 2
That Rhythm Man
Beggar's Blues
Saturday Night Function
Jungle Jamboree
Snake Hip Dance
Lazy Duke
Blues Of The Vagabond
Syncopated Shuffle
The Mooche
Ragamuffin Romeo
East St. Louis Toodle-oo
Sweet Mama
Hot And Bothered
Double Check Stomp
Black And Tan Fantasy
Big House Blues
Rocky Mountain Blues
Ring Dem Bells
Three Little Words
Old Man Blues
Sweet Chariot
Mood Indigo
I Can't Realize You Love Me
I'm So In Love With You
Rockin' In Rhythm


L said...

Interesting - I didn't realize that certain labels owned some and not others of his early recordings. thanks.

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