Following my criticism of Ellington's 1950s recordings over the weekend I was taken to the musical woodshed by two fellow bloggers.
John Salmon of Mystic Sounds thought I was being way too hard on the Duke and way too dismissive. David Brent Johnson, a writer and host of "Night Lights," a jazz radio show at WFIU in Indiana, also felt I was too harsh and should give a number of Ellington's works from that period another try (both bloggers' full comments and recommendations are tucked into the "Comments" field at the end of my August 12th blog entry; their sites are under "More Blogs" in the right-hand column).
Points well taken, guys. I will, I will. Please note for the recod, I'm not anti-Duke. I just find that other bands and groups from the same decade are a bit more interesting to me and that many of Duke's recordings from this period feel a bit too mannered and overly rendered (I'm ducking behind the barn now).
But to be fair, I did dig deep into my LP and CD collection and re-discovered a few Ellington gems, including Duke Ellington: Unknown Sessions, which is from 1960 and now out of print as a CD, and The Queen's Suite on The Ellington Suites from 1959.
And in the coming month I vow to give most of Ellington's 1950-1960 recordings another listen to comprehensively evaluate his output. At that point, I'll certainly recap with a bit more authority and specificity.
Wax clip: My favorite Ellington period is still the early 1940s, when the energy was raw, the beat was swing, and the Duke's band included a stunning collection of giants. For a taste of the Duke's early 1940s sound, have a look at this clip.