|About this Recording
8.120814 - ELLINGTON, Duke: Love you Madly (1947-1953) (Duke Ellington, Vol. 14)
Duke Ellington Vol.14
In 1946, the swing era collapsed and quite a few big bands, including those of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Jack Teagarden, broke up. Pop music had changed and was now focusing on ballad singers. Running a large swing orchestra had become economically unfeasible, dancers were shifting towards smaller rhythm & blues groups, and the jazz world was split between bebop and the revival of New Orleans jazz.
Duke Ellington survived the collapse, but there were more problems to come. Many of the remaining big bands broke up during 1949–50 due to the rise of television. Woody Herman, Charlie Barnet, Count Basie and even Dizzy Gillespie had to throw in the towel at least temporarily. Ellington persevered due to the royalties of his hit songs which allowed him to keep his orchestra going, but the pressure was on to come up with new hits. It would not be until his triumph at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956 that the survival of the Duke Ellington Orchestra would finally seem permanent.
If Duke Ellington had decided to break up his band in 1947 and freelance as an arranger-composer, he could have already looked back on a very full lifetime of accomplishments. Born 29 April 1899 in Washington D.C., Edward Kennedy Ellington flirted with the idea of becoming an artist. However he was drawn towards music after watching local stride and ragtime pianists perform in local pool halls and bars. Successful as a bandleader by the early 1920s, Ellington first visited New York in 1922. His second trip to the Big Apple in 1923, working with banjoist Elmer Snowden's Washingtonians, soon found him heading the group. The Duke Ellington Orchestra gained experience playing at the Kentucky Club for three years and in 1927 hit it big by landing the job of house orchestra at the Cotton Club. Due to the band's unique sound, Ellington's constant writing and the regular radio broadcasts, Duke Ellington quickly became a household name. Many of his compositions became standards, his arranging was both influential and innovative, and his band featured many highly individual soloists who benefited from being part of Ellington's musical world.
Two decades later, Duke Ellington was still at it. He turned 48 in 1947 and gave the impression that he looked at both the rise of the pop singer and bebop with amusement. Ellington was willing to acknowledge the competition and draw some aspects of it into his own music, but he mostly avoided following trends and fads except in an occasional tongue-in-cheek manner. After all, his music stood apart from everyone else's.
The personnel of the Duke Ellington Orchestra during the second half of 1947 had changed a great deal since 1942 and the turnover would continue for the next few years after fifteen years of remarkable stability. At the time of Sultry Serenade, he had just one trumpet soloist (Ray Nance) but there were two contrasting trombonists (Lawrence Brown and Tyree Glenn) and a very strong reed section with altoist Johnny Hodges and baritonist Harry Carney being holdovers from the 1920s. Clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton and tenor-saxophonist Al Sears gave the band a more modern solo even if Russell Procope, skilled on both clarinet and alto, tended to be underutilized. Ellington and drummer Sonny Greer (who was with him from the start) are joined in the rhythm section by the great bop bassist Oscar Pettiford. Veteran acoustic guitarist Fred Guy soon departed after being largely inaudible for a decade.
Volume 14 of Naxos' Duke Ellington series begins with the likeable Sultry Serenade, a number that features trombonist Tyree Glenn. When it was outfitted with lyrics years later, it also became known as "How Could You Do A Thing Like That To Me". While Glenn, who was also an excellent vibraphonist, was only with Ellington for a relatively brief period, he fit in perfectly. Johnny Hodges and Oscar Pettiford also make their presence felt.
The R&Bish blues Hy'a Sue features another side of Glenn as he displays his mastery of the plunger mute, a very important attribute for Ellington at the time since Tricky Sam Nanton's death had left a huge gap in the band's sound. Jimmy Hamilton's tenor engages in some counterpoint with Glenn, and Hodges gets to preach the blues a bit. Golden Cress, a memorable but somewhat forgotten Ellington ballad that becomes a romp in its second half, features the warm tone and virtuosity of the other key trombonist, Lawrence Brown.
Don't Get Around Much Anymore was, along with "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," the most popular original recorded by Duke Ellington in 1947. Al Hibbler's enthusiastic vocal, assisted by Hodges, Carney and Nance, makes this version a classic. Much more obscure is Billy Strayhorn's Progressive Gavotte, a number featuring Jimmy Hamilton's clarinet, Carney, trumpeter Harold 'Shorty' Baker and Hodges that shows the influence of bebop.
Not every selection recorded by Ellington during 1947–50 was on this level including such forgotten items as "Women (They'll Get You)", "I Fell And Broke My Heart", "It's Mad, Mad, Mad", "He Makes Me Believe He's Mine" and "Joog Joog". However the Duke Ellington Orchestra remained a mighty band. The 1950 version, in addition to Baker, Nance, Brown, Hamilton, Hodges, Carney, the pianist and a new bassist in Wendell Marshall, had strong soloists in trombonist Quentin Jackson (who took over the plunger mute role) and tenor-saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, who would be with Duke for the next 24 years.
Love You Madly over time became an Ellington standard. The debut version features the obscure but effective Yvonne Lanauze on vocals. Paul Gonsalves has a brief solo as he does on Build That Railroad, a feature for Al Hibbler.
In early 1951, Duke Ellington faced a crisis. Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown and Sonny Greer, three of his stars, all left the band at the same time to join Hodges' new combo. In what became known as 'The Great James Robbery', Ellington filled their spots with three of Harry James' sidemen: altoist Willie Smith, trombonist Juan Tizol (who had joined James after leaving Duke a few years earlier) and the spectacular drummer Louie Bellson. James, whose band was only part-time during the period, was good-natured about the events and even said that, if there were an opening in Ellington's orchestra, he would like to join himself!
The next seven selections feature the new lineup plus the brilliant and witty trombonist Britt Woodman. Fancy Dan has contrasting statements by Woodman and Quentin Jackson, a bit of Gonsalves and some fancy playing from Bellson while VIP's Boogie puts the spotlight on Carney and Hamilton. Monologue (Pretty And The Wolf) is a whimsical tale narrated by Ellington that is still contemporary. Jam With Sam gives Duke an opportunity to feature many of his sidemen on a medium-tempo blues: Baker, Gonsalves, Woodman, Procope on alto, the remarkable high-note trumpeter Cat Anderson, Jackson, trumpeter Nelson Williams and Cat at its conclusion. Deep Night has spots for all three trombonists (with Tizol going first) along with Nance and Hamilton. Please Be Kind is a feature for the melodic Willie Smith and Gonsalves while the joyous Smada has Hamilton's clarinet being showcased.
The 1952 Duke Ellington Orchestra was even stronger than the previous year's edition because the trumpet section was back to four major soloists with the addition of Clark Terry and Willie Cook. The band's rendition of Take The 'A' Train was the greatest one since the original 1941 recording due to an inspired vocal by Betty Roche (the highpoint of her recording career) and some heated tenor from Paul Gonsalves. Rock- Skippin' At The Blue Note gives Ray Nance a chance to shine. The original version of Satin Doll has no real solos but became the last of Ellington's pop hits. Concluding this collection is Skin Deep, a showcase for the remarkable drumming of Louie Bellson who wrote the piece.
Even after all of this, Duke Ellington had two more decades of accomplishments ahead of him.
Sultry Serenade (Duke Ellington)
Hy'a Sue (Duke Ellington)
Golden Cress (Duke Ellington)
Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Duke Ellington–Bob Russell)
Progressive Gavotte (Billy Strayhorn)
Love You Madly (Duke Ellington)
Build That Railroad (Sing That Song) (Duke Ellington)
Fancy Dan (Duke Ellington)
VIP'S Boogie (Duke Ellington)
Monologue (Pretty And The Wolf) (Duke Ellington)
Jam With Sam (Duke Ellington)
Deep Night (Charlie Henderson–Rudy Vallee)
Please Be Kind (Sammy Cahn–Saul Chaplin)
Smada (Billy Strayhorn)
Take The 'A' Train (Billy Strayhorn)
Rock-Skippin' At The Blue Note (Billy Strayhorn)
Satin Doll (Duke Ellington)
Skin Deep (Louie Bellson)
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