In the summer of 1959 the Duke Ellington Orchestra did the rounds on the American jazz festival circuit (including the Playboy Festival, which is a bit like hearing Radiohead are appearing at the Nuts Festival). In September they went into the studio and recorded some of the material they had been playing: there are two new short suites (Duael Fuel and Idiom ’59), a revamped version of Copout Extension and three Ellington standards. It’s an enjoyable album, but in the context of the mass of Ellington’s work maybe not that memorable. Duael Fuel features the two drummers, Sam Woodyard and Jimmy Johnson: I imagine in a live performance it was tremendous fun with the two drummers duelling it out, but, unless you like drums whacking away more than I do, it begins to lose interest after not that many plays. Idiom ’59 is more interesting and, for me, the most memorable number on the album: the first section features Russell Procope’s clarinet, the second section features Jimmy Hamilton’s clarinet (and it is interesting to compare the two contrasting musicians and styles), the final section features Clark Terry playing the flugelhorn. As far as I know, after this summer the piece didn’t remain as part of the band’s repertoire and I can’t help thinking this is because although good, it is minor. Copout Extension features Paul Gonsalves’ tenor, Perdido features Clark Terry’s trumpet and Things Ain’t What They Used To Be features Johnny Hodges on alto – all are good, fine examples of these musicians works. Launching Pad is the orchestra coming together for a final big blast – although there is a short feature for Ray Nance. It is all good fun: they all sound fresh and full of humour, not as though they have just completed a long tour. But it still seems minor stuff (but minor Ellington is still better than most ever attain).