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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.

Customer Reviews

Duke Ellingtons Jazz Violin Sessions

This is a terrific Ellington outing. A must for those who desire to know the length and breadth of our greatest American composer. Duke blessed us with his incredible repetoire and then continued to give us different moods, his own variations on a theme. The soul of these violins scorches these Ellington classics. Daydream haunts, Don't Get Around Much is incredibly blue and In a Sentimental Mood breaks your heart. Great Stuff!

So, so good

This is the good stuff. Ray Nance was a genius--he played violin, trumpet and vocals, and was an ongoing collaborator with Ellington. This larger than life sound is best on a sunny day, with a glass of wine, a cool breeze and nothing to do but relax and take it all in.

Good music is hard to find these days.

Listen to this album and then turn on the radio and listen to anything that’s on the air. Hear the difference?


Born: April 29, 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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