Recent listening, current

Thursday, February 20, 2014

186. Duke Ellington / Sophisticated Lady (1996)

Sophisticated Lady is another cull from the legendary RCA sessions. It's a good one. Selections from the period also appear on the three-disc set, Never No Lament. But that, or Bluebird's Blanton-Webster box that spawned them all, are going to make one hell of a dent in your bankroll. On the other hand, you can buy Sophisticated Lady over at Amazon for the princely sum of one penny. I know, you have enough Ellington at home and will forgo this stage in the endless saga of repackaged jazz music. Still, a penny? I'll wait here while you go and get one. Back already? When it arrives in the mail, you'll appreciate the diversity of material and engaging sequence. Duke's best pieces are present, and there is a fair mixture of instrumental and vocal music. With Blanton at the wheel, it swings like a hammock. There is magic from start to finish. Like Kay Davis' electrifying vocal that makes "Mood Indigo," followed by Webster's whispering tenor. Tricky Sam Nanton's trombone should get you "In a Sentimental Mood," but beware the three sirens telling you "It Don't Mean a Thing if it ain't Got that Swing" (Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, Marie Ellingon). The affair heats up to a frenzy courtesy of Jimmy B. Then Ray Nance sings "Just Squeeze Me," Al Hibbler chimes in on "Solitude"... Nothing to shake a stick at here, this is real music. This is what it all means. This is "it."

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