Jazziz (3/93, p.62) - "...This retrospective of Billy Strayhorn's compositions found the orchestra in inspired form with several touching moments..."
Mojo (Publisher) (3/02, p.118) - "...A magnificent album, an all-Strayhorn programme perfromed with great love and intensity by the mid-'60s band doing more than justice to the original performances and captured in glorious fidelity..."
Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton (alto saxophone, clarinet); Johnny Hodges (alto saxophone); Paul Gonsalves (tenor saxophone); Harry Carney (baritone saxophone); Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington, Herbie Jones, Cootie Williams (trumpet); Clark Terry (flugelhorn); John Sanders, Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors (trombone); Aaron Bell, Jeff Castleman (bass); Steve Little, Sam Woodyard (drums).
Recorded at RCA Studios, New York, New York and between August and November 1967. Includes liner notes by Duke Ellington, Stanley Dance, Patricia Willard, and Robert Palmer.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
"Bill" is of course Billy Strayhorn, the composer, arranger and pianist who served as Ellington's musical alter ego from their meeting in 1939 to his death in 1967. Strayhorn's contributions to the Ellington book, and to the jazz repertoire in general, were enormous. "Lush Life," the tune with which he introduced himself to Duke, remains one of the most literate (and challenging) ballads of all time, while "Take The 'A' Train," which became the Ellington band's theme song, is one of the most widely-known compositions in the jazz cannon.
AND HIS MOTHER CALLED HIM BILL sidesteps these particular pieces but still draws from the full range of Strayhorn's career. A number of long-standing members of the band were still on hand in the summer and fall of 1967 when these recordings were made, adding further poignancy and musical depth to this tribute. Of particular note are Johnny Hodges' aching alto melodies on "Blood Count" and "Day Dream," Cat Anderson's relaxed and confident plunger mute work on "Charpoy," and Ellington's own keyboard punctuation on the coy, big--band-functions-like-a-small-group whisper of "The Intimacy of the Blues."
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