Album Review: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

Ellington and Coltrane

What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world. ~ Duke Ellington

This week’s album review is of an old favorite. One I have on both vinyl and cd, and one that  pairs together two of the greatest legends of Jazz.

The very idea of Coltrane and Ellington together naturally leads to high expectations. I am happy to say that Duke Ellington & John Coltrane lives up to, and exceeds, even the loftiest expectations.

Coltrane said about the sessions:

 “I was really honoured to have the opportunity of working with Duke. It was a wonderful experience. He has set standards I haven’t caught up with yet. I would have liked to have worked over all those numbers again, but then I guess the performances wouldn’t have had the same spontaneity. And they mightn’t have been any better!”

I have always preferred the “mellower” Coltrane, not the experimental, push-the-envelope one. Coltrane at his most melodic has a sound that is only rivaled by Stan Getz. And with Ellington’s influence, that is the Coltrane we get: bluesy, evocative, soulful.

Critics concur that the highlight of the album is the first track, “In a Sentimental Mood.” It is a Ellington standard and Ellington and Coltrane bring a fresh take to it. I could not help though wondering how it would sound if Coltrane was playing with Ellington’s orchestra rather than the small (but great!) Coltrane ensemble assembled for this recording session.

Billy Strayhorn’s “My Little Brown Book” is a great song and probably my favorite track, mellow, bluesy, beautiful. Duke’s piano moving in and out and beneath Coltrane’s solo seems to me to be the essence of jazz creation.

“The Feeling of Jazz” is also a great tune.

This remains for me, one of my favorite albums… and an essential one to any who loves Coltrane or Ellington. Ivey-Divey, indeed!

Tracks

A1 In A Sentimental Mood

Written-By – Duke Ellington

4:12
A2 Take The Coltrane

Written-By – Duke Ellington

4:40
A3 Big Nick

Written-By – John Coltrane

4:25
A4 Stevie

Written-By – Duke Ellington

4:20
B1 My Little Brown Book

Written-By – Billy Strayhorn

5:20
B2 Angelica

Written-By – Duke Ellington

5:56
B3 The Feeling Of Jazz

Written-By – Bobby Troup, Duke Ellington, George Simon

5:30

Credits

  • Piano – Duke Ellington
  • Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
  • Bass – Aaron Bell (tracks: A1, A4, B1, B3), Jimmy Garrison (tracks: A2, A3, B2)
  • Drums – Elvin Jones (tracks: A1 to A3, B2), Sam Woodyard (tracks: A4, B1, B3)
  • Producer – Bob Thiele
  • Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane

Notes

Recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ on September 26, 1962.
 

Next Week’s Review:

Turn Up the Heath, The Jimmy Heath Big Band 

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