Duke Ellington and Louis Bellson - JazzWax

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August 12, 2007


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John Salmon

Ellington did at least two great albums in the 60's and 70's-Far East Suite and New Orleans Suite. Give them another listen.

You may lose a lot of credibility in dumping on Ellington. Criticizing the Ellington suites as excessively "thematic" and producer-driven is strikingly odd. First, Do you really think Duke recorded anything (okay, maybe Ellington '65) he really didn't want to? And the suites are not really suites, just loosley related pieces, for the most part, so the criticism about thematicism is inapt.

Your comments remind me of Bill Millowowski's saying that Benny Carter's playing was too "Republican" for his tastes, whatever that means.

John Salmon


David Brent Johnson

Marc, first off, great blog--I've been enjoying your daily reflections and have posted a link on the website for my jazz show "Night Lights." Glad to see the kudos for ...AND HIS MOTHER CALLED HIM BILL (and shocked, though I shouldn't be, to learn that the recent Bluebird reissue is already OOP). In addition to the albums John suggested above, you might want to check out some of Ellington's Reprise work (gathered in a wonderful but also-now-OOP Mosaic box, though I think most of it's readily available as individual CDs) such as JAZZ VIOLIN SESSION and THE SYMPHONIC ELLINGTON. Duke did some great work in his later years! Organissimo posters hipped me to another gem--THE JAYWALKER, which covers some private recordings from around the same time that BILL was made.

Thanks again for the new blog,
David Brent Johnson
WFIU-Bloomington, IN

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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