Ellington Masterpieces

Ellington Masterpieces

by John LewisJohn Lewis


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With musicological thoroughness, some crack musicians and the best of intentions, John Lewis leads New York's American Jazz Orchestra in 15 transcriptions from one of Duke Ellington's prime periods (1940-43), plus "Rockin' In Rhythm" from 1930. If you had not heard the originals, you would probably come away from these reinterpretations exhilarated, because the AJO does a scrupulously vigorous job. The soloists occasionally parrot the notes of the original Ellingtonians but are also allowed at other times to go their own way, with tenor saxophonist/orchestra manager Loren Schoenberg taking on the mantle of Ben Webster with a light touch. Lewis himself appears on piano only in "Bojangles" and a freely adapted "Rockin' In Rhythm"; Mel Lewis drives the rhythm section expertly, if more flamboyantly than the style of Duke's Sonny Greer. Besides standards like "Take the 'A' Train," "Warm Valley," "Jack the Bear," "Concerto for Cootie," and "Cotton Tail," there is also room for less-heralded but worthy swingers like the Ellingtonian treatment of "Sidewalks of New York." Still, although it is certainly true that the music is there in the score -- as a visitor to the sessions commented -- the unique timbres and blendings of the Ellington orchestra are elusive as ever, although there are times ("Bojangles") when the spirit almost conjures itself. If a choice has to be made between the originals and these reinterpretations, go with the originals, but the AJO versions aren't a bad second choice at all.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/13/2008
Label: Atlantic
UPC: 0075679142320
catalogNumber: 91423
Rank: 96354


  1. Sepia Panorama
  2. Johnny Come Lately
  3. All Too Soon
  4. Ko Ko
  5. Chloe
  6. Bojangles
  7. Cotton Tail
  8. Warm Valley
  9. Sidewalks of New York
  10. Main Stem
  11. Jack the Bear
  12. Take the "A" Train
  13. Concerto for Cootie
  14. Conga Brava
  15. Rockin' in Rhythm

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Lewis   Primary Artist,Piano,Conductor,Leader
Eddie Bert   Trombone
Bill Easley   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Jimmy Knepper   Trombone
Mel Lewis   Drums
Loren Schoenberg   Tenor Saxophone
Marvin Stamm   Trumpet
Dick Katz   Piano
John Purcell   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Norris Turney   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Danny Bank   Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Howard Collins   Guitar
John Eckert   Trumpet
Gary Giddins   Leader
John Goldsby   Bass
Virgil Johns   Trumpet
Bob Millikan   Trumpet
Benny Powell   Trombone

Technical Credits

Jerome Kern   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Nesuhi Ertegun   Producer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Billy Strayhorn   Composer
Neil Moret (Chas. N. Daniels)   Composer
James V. Monaco   Composer

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