Duke Ellington - Festival Session (Limited Edition Vinyl)

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In spite of its title, Festival Session is a studio album that primarily featured tunes Duke presented at the Newport and Playboy jazz festivals during 1959. The 1956 Newport Jazz Festival (the third edition of that event), had proven to be essential for Duke Ellington s career, which at the time was struggling due to the hardships of sustaining a big band. Newport gave jazz a new popular dimension, taking it from a closed nightclub environment to an outdoor stage in broad daylight. During that magic 1956 evening, the audience became hysterical after Paul Gonsalves multiple choruses on Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue . In later years, Duke used to say that he had been born at Newport 56. From that point on he was a regular attraction at that annual festival, and during each edition he tended to introduce new pieces. Festival Session was given a fivestar rating in Down Beat by Don DeMicheal, who wrote, What a wonderfully powerful yet subtle instrument is the Ellington band. In this release, it kicks its way through part of the 1959 summer s festival material. The moods range from thundering jubilation through pixyish humor and satire to quiet reflection. By all means, listen to this.

Limited Edition 180gm Gatefold Vinyl.

 



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).


By: onethink


A1 Perdido
A2 Copout Extension
A3 Duael Fuel - Part I [Vapor]
A4 Duael Fuel - Part II
A5 Duael Fuel - Part III
B1 Idiom 59 - Part I
B2 Idiom 59 - Part II
B3 Idiom 59 - Part III
B4 Things Ain't What They Used To Be
B5 Launching Pad


 

New York, September 8, 1959.

37015 © & ℗ 2016 Jazz Images. Made in the E.U.
On The Cover: Duke Ellington in Paris, 1961.
Photos © by Jean-Pierre Leloir.