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Traditional Jazz & New Orleans - Released December 12, 2006 | Fremeaux Heritage

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles Jazzman - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1959 | Verve Reissues

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Topping off a wealth of full-band recordings, the various stars of Ellington's great outfit recorded many combo sides under their own names. And while not on the same sophisticated level of classic Ellingtonia, the late-'30s material cut by Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, and Rex Stewart is packed with tasty solo work and some of the finest examples of early small-group swing. These later examples from 1958-1959 feature Hodges backed by both Ellington and Billy Strayhorn on piano and such non-Duke luminaries as Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, and Jo Jones. Like its companion album, Back to Back, Side by Side has a loose, jam session feel, with all the soloists stretching out. Hodges is in top form throughout, while Edison and Webster man their spots just fine. Highlights include the sveltely swinging "Going Up" and Hodges' bluesy closer, "You Need to Rock." A must for fans of vintage combo swing. © Stephen Cook /TiVo

Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Duke Ellington surprised the jazz world in 1962 with his historic trio session featuring Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Not in a mood to simply rework older compositions, the bulk of the LP focused on music he wrote specifically for the session. "Money Jungle" is a thunderous opener, a blues that might be classified somewhere between post-bop and avant-garde. The gem of the date is the fragile, somewhat haunting ballad "Fleurette Africaine," where Mingus' floating bassline and Roach's understated drumming add to the mystique of an Ellington work that has slowly been gathering steam among jazz musicians as a piece worth exploring more often. "Very Special" is a jaunty upbeat blues, while the angular, descending line of "Wig Wise" also proves to be quite catchy. Ellington also revisits "Warm Valley" (a lovely ballad indelibly associated with Johnny Hodges) and an almost meditative "Solitude." Thunderous percussion and wild basslines complement a wilder-than-usual approach to "Caravan." Every jazz fan should own a copy of this sensational recording session. © Ken Dryden /TiVo

Jazz - Released February 10, 2017 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

Jazz - Released April 1, 2003 | RCA Bluebird

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band, covering the years 1939-1942 in the great composer and bandleader's career, is essentially the third time that RCA has issued this material on CD. The first was a botched job, appalling even, with its flattened-out, compressed sound, along with a chopped version of "Take the A-Train" and other sonic and editorial errors. The second version was completely remastered and corrected the editorial problems, but featured no alternate takes from the band's performances. Beyond the original 66 tracks, nine additional cuts are featured here, including four brand-new master-take issues of "Another Pitter Patter," "Body and Soul," "Sophisticated Lady," and "Mr. J.B. Blues," as well as alternate takes of "Ko-Ko," "Bojangles," "Sepia Panorama," "Jumpin' Punkins," and "Jump for Joy." All of this material is available on RCA's Complete Duke Ellington and in bits and pieces on imports, but these tracks make this set feel much more complete as a document of Ellington's greatest band. The interplay between Jimmy Blanton's bass, which stood completely out front with its fat, rounded tone -- a revolutionary thing in a big band in those days -- and Ben Webster's shimmering, soulful tenor on the alternate take of "Sepia Panorama," as well as the title track and Webster's signature tune, "Chelsea Bridge," are more remarkable with each listen. The sheer force of Blanton's playing moves the band to a whole different level of intensity, and the contrast between the tones of altoist Johnny Hodges and Webster is one of the most unique and complimentary in the history of jazz. If you are new to this set, it's a fine introduction, with performances of classics such as "Ko-Ko," "Harlem Air Shaft," "All Too Soon," "In a Mellotone," "Warm Valley," "Harlem Airshaft," "Take the 'A' Train," "I Got It Bad," "Five O'Clock Drag," "Perdido," "Bojangles," "The C Jam Blues," "Concerto for Cootie," "Cottontail," "Johnny Come Lately," "Sentimental Lady," and many others. The Blanton-Webster Band featured a great many soloists, including Cootie Williams, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart, and vocalist Herb Jeffries. In fact, the only shortcomings on this set are some of the vocals by other performers, but let's face it, there were few truly great jazz singers at the time, and this minor annoyance is easily overlooked. While it is easy to be cynical about the way classic recordings are repackaged and remastered as a way of getting enthusiasts to buy them again and again, this one is truly worth either an initial investment or reinvestment. It may have taken RCA three tries, but they finally got it right. The package is lovely, the notes updated, and the sound stellar. Along with the extra tracks, what more could you want? © Thom Jurek /TiVo