Far East Suite
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This third CD edition of Duke Ellington's masterwork, Far East Suite, recorded after two grueling tours of the Middle and Far East in the early- to mid-'60s, is, hopefully, the definitive version. Issued in 2003's Bluebird First Editions series, the album has been lovingly compiled to include a fine set of liner notes by Stephanie Stein Crease (the originals are also included on the back panel), as well as seven bonus tracks, all of which are alternate takes, five released here for the first time — two of the four from the "Special Mix" edition" are here, while two more are left off. The endless repackages of jazz classics are becoming tedious, but this one is worth it. The alternates reveal not only works as they developed, such as the truly transcendent "Isfahan," but even a newer alternate of "Bluebird of Delhi." This is one that Ellington aficionados need.
The Far East Suite is one of the greatest masterpieces in jazz history. Ellington and Strayhorn were certainly inspired by the Orchestra's extended State Dept Tour of the Middle and Far East, and the composers put all those experiences into the arrangements. The result is an Ellingtonian tone poem of remarkable beauty and power. One of Duke's greatest accomplishments.
Born: April 29, 1899 in Washington D.C.
Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s