Release Date: 06/22/21
Although the LP is now considered a true classic, it didn't receive unanimous critical approvalat the time of its release, as evidenced by Charles Fox's October 1963 review in the BritishGramophone magazine (which also reviewed the other important Ellington collaboration fromthat year, Money Jungle): 'Duke Ellington's piano playing has, during recent years, rather comeinto its own. Performing in a style which defies rigid categorization (I once described it as fallingsomewhere in between Willie 'The Lion' Smith and Thelonious Monk), Ellington has become,if anything, even more audacious in his autumnal years. One result of this is to be found onthis LP, where Duke consorts with musicians who would not normally spring to mind as naturalpartners for him. The most drastic confrontation is undoubtedly that where Ellington faces JohnColtrane. It is also the least satisfactory. The trouble here is that we get two musicians withvery little in common. Ellington's harmonic conception is that of a romanticist; he thinks in termsof texture, of impressionism, of sensuousness. Coltrane, on the other hand, has committedhimself to a rigorous assault upon the chord structure of jazz, splitting it up, concerning himselfwith the implications of the harmonies rather than the notes themselves. What we get, in fact,is music provided by two completely incompatible performers. (It is noticeable that wheneverColtrane starts to take a solo Ellington usually drops out.) The rhythm sections -Jimmy Garrisonand Elvin Jones from Coltrane's Quartet, Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard from the Ellingtonband- are permutated throughout the LP, but probably the highest degree of integration comesabout when Coltrane is backed up by his own men. For it is Coltrane, in the end, who reallysupplies the most worthwhile music. He is, after all, in a fairly dominant position and can imposehis musical personality upon the session more easily than Ellington. The result is that he takessome fairly good solos, using both soprano and tenor saxes. Perhaps the best tracks are 'BigNick' (a Coltrane tune rather like 'Narcissus') and Ellington's 'The Feeling of Jazz', on whichColtrane blows away on the blues in a happy and relaxed fashion. The overall impression,though, is of uneasiness, of an LP that is good only in fits and starts.''I was really honored to have the opportunity of working with Duke', explained the saxophonistfollowing their collaboration. 'It was a wonderful experience. He has set standards I haven'tcaught up with yet. I would have liked to have worked over all those numbers again, but thenI guess the performances wouldn't have had the same spontaneity. And they mightn't havebeen any better!'
|Label: Groove Replica|
|Run Time: 40 mins|
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