Q - 4 Stars - Excellent
Jazziz (3/93, p.62) - "...This delightful trio session from 1953 contains ample evidence of his ability to pianistically bridge the gap between James P. Johnson, Thelonious Monk, and even Cecil Taylor..."
Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano); Wendell Marshall (bass); Butch Ballard, Dave Black (drums); Ralph Collier (congas).
Reissue producers: Michael Cuscuna, Pete Welding.
Recorded in Los Angeles, California on April 13-14, 1953 and New York, New York on December 3, 1953. Includes liner notes by Mark Tucker.
Duke Ellington's piano-based dates were rare but, as on the tumultous MONEY JUNGLE with Charles Mingus and Max Roach, the results could serve as an X-ray of the Duke's musical mind in action. This 1953 piano date is a somewhat more staid affair that still serves as an excellent introduction to the Duke and his music. First there is the matter of Ellington's rich, charismatic tone, something like the man himself, a sound matched only by Art Tatum.
One usually hears the Ellington piano in punctuation and comments running through the full band recordings, maybe an extended intro if you're lucky. (He was not unlike the famously spare Count Basie in this regard.) On PIANO REFLECTIONS however, the deep irresistible sound of Duke's playing is nearly the whole story. Except of course for perfectly wrought compositions like Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower" and Duke's own "Prelude to a Kiss." There are also pure improvisations like "Retrospection" and "Reflections In D," but the composer's structural instincts transform them into originals forever etched in stone.
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