Friday, November 11, 2005

The Duke Goes East

The Far East Suite
Bluebird LPRCA3782

Recorded 1966

1. Tourist Point Of View
2. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah)
3. Isfahan
4. Depk
5. Mount Harissa
6. Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues)
7. Agra
8. Amad
9. Ad Lib On Nippon

10. Tourist Point Of View (alternate take)
11. Bluebird of Delhi (alternate take)
12. Isfahan (alternate take)
13. Amad (alternate take)

Cat Anderson - Trumpet
Mercer Ellington - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Paul Gonsalves - Clarinet, Reeds, Tenor Sax
Johnny Hodges - Clarinet, Reeds, Alto Saxophone
Cootie Williams - Trumpet
Lawrence Brown - Trombone
Rufus "Speedy" Jones - Drums
Russell Procope - Clarinet, Reeds, Alto Saxophone
Chuck Connors - Trombone
William Cat Anderson - Trumpet
Harry Carney - Clarinet, Reeds, Baritone Saxophone
Buster Cooper - Trombone
Duke Ellington - Piano
Jimmy Hamilton - Clarinet, Reeds, Tenor Saxophone
Herb Jones - Trumpet
John Lamb - Bass
Chuck Conners - Trombone
Herbie Jones - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Lawrence D. Brown - Trombone

If you care to cast an eye over some of the previous entries in thus blog, you’ll no doubt notice a bit of a free jazz influence there. Today we’re going somewhere a little bit different, but not entirely…

Talk of world music in jazz, and I think of the “world fusion” of Don Cherry’s “Eternal Rhythm”. But he wasn’t the only jazz artist plundering the globe in a search for new sounds in the late 1960’s, as this recording ably demonstrates.

The influences are many – Indian, middle-eastern, oriental – but this remains swinging big band jazz throughout, with some fantastic playing from both ensemble and soloist throughout. It's worth mentioning that, though this is called the 'far' east suite, with the exception of 'Ad Lib On Nippon', the tracks all have middle eastern names. It's even more worth mentioning that, at the time of recording, Duke was 65! 65! If I can swing half as hard as this when i'm 65 i'll be a very happy man..

Highlights include the clarinet playing on “Bluebird Of Delhi (Mynah)” (an underrated jazz instrument, unfairly associated with Dixieland jazz. Only the bass clarinet has received much notice in modern jazz, thanks mainly to the work of Eric Dolphy).

Also worthy of a mention is the hard swinging “Depk” – although I must admit to having no idea what country that one is supposed to represent, but it’s got an infectious piano riff that keeps you coming back for more. “Mount Harissa” is not dissimilar – great piano part, swings like a monkey in a tree, but middle eastern? Well, maybe…

Actually it’s all great. Just ignore the idea that you’re going to be treated to the musical equivalent of a round-the-world cruise, and enjoy some of the finest playing and arranging the jazz world has ever known.

Read more about this album here. And when you've done with that, have a look at this review of the album. That's how I want this blog to be...

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