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The Duke 1940, Vol. 2

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Album Review

The Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1940 may not have been as popular with the general public as that of Glenn Miller, but they were one of the great big bands of all time. The best way to acquire their music is to get all of the alternate takes, which are available through RCA/Bluebird, but the Classics series has done a fine job of reissuing all of the master takes. This particular disc has a small-group session apiece led by altoist Johnny Hodges and cornetist Rex Stewart along with nine songs from the big band. Among the gems are "In a Mellotone," "Five O'Clock Whistle," "Warm Valley" (heard twice), "Daydream," and "Linger Awhile." In addition, the four classic Jimmy Blanton-Duke Ellington bass-piano duets (which include "Pitter Panther Patter" and "Mr. J.B. Blues") are included and find Blanton sounding quite futuristic, almost like Charles Mingus 15 years later.

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...
Full bio

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