Duke Ellington: Heading for Newport


This is a release aimed primarily at dedicated Ellington collectors. Despite the title, which refers to the legendary Newport concert that occurred five days later, this has nothing to match the highlights of that famous performance. In fact the overlap of repertoire between the two concerts is very small. “Black and Tan Fantasy”, always rewarding, occurs in both, with an interesting contrast between Nance on this occasion and Cat Anderson making a rare contribution in this context at Newport.

It’s worth noting that the most thorough Ellington discography assigns the first six titles here to a West Coast concert “probably” in November 1955. However Ellington’s announcement linking “Theme for Trambean” and “Satin Doll”, and referring to both, confirms that the compilers have correctly added these tracks at the beginning of this CD. A bonus indeed but it’s balanced by the excision of a medley and six other tracks at the end of the concert.

I can agree with Steve Voce in his notes that the loss of two Grissom vocals, a drums feature and the medley is nothing to be mourned. But I would like to have heard a couple of encores: Ray Nance in a rare performance of “Hello, Cherie” and a long version of “Perdido” which has chases involving all the trumpeters and Britt Woodman. 

Apart from “Black and Tan”, already mentioned, the highlight of this concert was the performance by the recently returned Hodges of  “Prelude to a Kiss” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”. They eclipse the earlier features for Hamilton, Terry, Carney, Woodman, Nance and Gonsalves, running from “Clarinet Melodrama” through to “‘A’ Train”. However these would no doubt be rewarding for anyone unfamiliar with earlier performances of the pieces.

There’s now a massive amount of Ellington’s music available and certainly no one should consider buying this without already owning the full version of the subsequent concert at Newport.

(1) Black and Tan Fantasy; Stompin’ at the Savoy; Clarinet Melodrama; Harlem Airshaft; Sophisticated Lady; Theme for Trambean; Satin Doll; (2) Take the ‘A’ Train; (1) Take the ‘A’ Train; La Virgen de la Macarena; Monologue; V.I.P. Boogie; Jam With Sam; The Hawk Talks; Prelude to a Kiss; Things Ain’t What They Used to Be; (1) Day In, Day Out (75.57)
(1) Ray Nance, Willie Cook, Clark Terry, Cat Anderson (t); Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders (tb); Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney (reeds); Ellington (p); Jimmy Woode (b); Sam Woodyard (d). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2 July 1956.
(2) add Nance (v). (3) Jimmy Grissom (v) replaces Nance.
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