JJ 10/63: Duke Ellington And John Coltrane – Duke Ellington And John Coltrane

Sixty years ago Gerald Lascelles wasn't sure Ellington and Coltrane fully considered the listener in making their tender tryst. First published in Jazz Journal October 1963


This album describes the honeymoon excursion of a jazz marriage of some importance. The various flirtatious exchanges at the beginning of several tracks seems to indicate that the marriage has been one of expedience, if not of con­venience! The question of compatibility was uppermost in my mind when I started to listen to the music, and I quickly realised that both parties were keen and willing to explore each other’s virtues, regaling the good and evading the shortcomings.

The curtain through which I peer at this nuptial bliss is Stan­ley Dance’s stimulating sleeve notes; the nuptial couch is but a silky black slab of shellac. The grooves thereon coagulate the joy and anguish of this eminent couple, which took place in the strict surveillance of their respective rhythm sections.

Of the music, there is much to be said. With one exception Duke or his minions called the tune, with several new pieces included. “Brown Book”, a Strayhorn piece, strikes me as being a de­lightful theme, and one which allowed them both to exploit their ideas to the full. Coltrane’s “Big Nick” is a catchy little piece, possibly intended as a satire of so many of Duke’s flippant themes.

“Angelica” has great potential, but the rather uncomfortable patterns adopted by Elvin Jones makes this one of the least satisfactory tracks. “Feeling Of Jazz” pos­sibly brings them closest together, al­though there are screechy Coltrane pas­sages which leave Duke out on a limb.

You may ask why I refer to a honey­moon in my opening paragraph. I do so because I am confident that Duke will return to the studio with Coltrane, and that they will extend their marriage to a closer collaboration, in which the lis­tener will be more completely embraced.

(a) In A Sentimental Mood; (b) Take The Coltrane; (b) Big Nick; (c) Stevie (18 min) – (c) My Little Brown Book; (b) Angelica; (c) The Feeling Of Jazz (17¼ min)
(a) Duke Ellington (p); John Coltrane (ten/sop); Aaron Bell (bs); Elvin Jones (d).
(b) Ellington (p); Coltrane (sop/ten); Jimmy Garrison (bs); Elvin Jones (d).
(c) as (a) but Woodyard (d) replaces Jones. All 26/9/62.
(H.M.V. CSD 1502 12inLP 32s.)

• Sandy Brown was less charitable about this record in the same issue of Jazz Journal