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Duke Ellington/Ray Brown (Bass): This One's for Blanton

Album Notes

Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Ray Brown (bass).

Recorded at Unite Recording, Las Vegas, Nevada on December 5, 1972. Originally released on Pablo (721). Includes liner notes by Orrin Keepnews, Ray Brown and Benny Green.

Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1994, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).

Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Ray Brown (bass).

Recorded at United Recording, Las Vegas, Nevada on December 5, 1972. Originally released on Pablo (721). Includes liner notes by Orrin Keepnews, Ray Brown and Benny Green.

Can Duke Ellington's piano playing still be called "underrated?" In the decades since his passing, this seems to be the most common adjective applied to his efforts at the keyboard. This reissue of a 1972 duet session with the incomparable bassist Ray Brown (who has never been underrated, and rightly so) offers further evidence of Ellington's finesse behind the ivories. Even so, Brown is the one on display here, and that's the point.

The Blanton of the title is of course Jimmy Blanton, the bassist who revolutionized the role of his instrument in much the same way as Charlie Christian revolutionized his (and, like Christian, Blanton died at a shockingly young age). As bassist with the Ellington band at the start of the 1940s, Blanton introduced the idea of soloing on the bass, and the concept thereafter found its way into the palette of the band. Ellington and Brown revisit some of the compositional results here, and create some new ones, namely the four movement "Fragmented Suite for Piano and Bass." The sympathetic interplay between these two masters is rendered that much deeper by the gorgeous tone each evokes from his respective instrument.



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