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Duke Ellington's Jazz Violin Sessions

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Album Review

This small group session was recorded in 1963 for Atlantic, and originally issued in 1976, two years after Duke Ellington's death. It showcases a small group that features string players in the front line. Ray Nance, the Duke's own violinist, is here as is the legendary Stephane Grappelli and violist Svend Asmussen. The rest of the players include tenor man Paul Gonsalves, drummer Sam Woodyard, bassist Ernie Shepard, alto saxist Russell Procope, and trombonist Buster Cooper. Ellington plays piano no all but two tunes where Billy Strayhorn replaced him. The program is a collection of Ellington and Strayhorn standards from "Blues in C" and "Take the 'A' Train," to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Cotton Tail," and the wonderful "Limbo Jazz." The soloist and group interplay are gentle, swinging, and utterly and completely graceful and elegant. There is a lighthearted tenderness in this set that borders on sentimentality without ever going there. And the feeling is loose, relaxed, and full of warmth throughout.

Biography

Born: 29 April 1899 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Duke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years. The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his bandmembers, many of whom remained with him for long periods. Ellington also wrote film scores and stage musicals, and several of his instrumental works...
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