The Bubber Miley Era: 1924-1929

The Bubber Miley Era: 1924-1929

by Duke EllingtonDuke Ellington


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Bubber Miley Era: 1924-1929 is a worthwhile sampler of classic early Duke Ellington, with the spotlight on James Wesley "Bubber" Miley (1903-1932), famous as a master of the muted growling trumpet. Trombonist Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton developed a comparable facility on his own instrument, emitting surprising tones that often blended wonderfully with Bubber's uncanny, human-sounding horn. Yet in a sense this retrospective touches upon the Otto "Toby" Hardwick era as he was Ellington's first noteworthy reedman and is well featured on the earliest selections. Although the liner notes dismiss "Choo Choo" as a "false start," this novelty number typifies much of the jazz recorded in 1924, right down to a scruffy banjo break by Fred Guy. "Choo Choo" may be enjoyed as a charmingly dated artifact and as contextual background for the exciting evolution of the Ellington band over the next five years. By 1927 you get to enjoy the ballast of Harry Carney's baritone saxophone, and the thrilling presence of Wellman Braud as he crowds the microphone with his bass fiddle. Johnny Hodges and Barney Bigard fill out the reed section in 1928, enabling Duke to explore musical concepts of increased poetic substance and depth. One marvelous highlight is trumpeter Arthur Whetsol's presence on "Black Beauty," during which the piano interlude brings to mind Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist," recorded six months earlier. This illustrates the fact that these kinds of musical changes were in the air at that time, and likely to be articulated by creative musicians from very different social backgrounds. Also from 1928, a wonderful solo piano performance entitled "Swampy River" comes across as a glowing example of Willie "The Lion" Smith's influence upon Ellington. Vocalists range from a rather insipid Irving Mills to the unforgettably majestic Adelaide Hall and the very gutsy Baby Cox, whose scatting fits in nicely with the gritty dispositions of Miley and Nanton. Mills sounds best when paired with Ozie Ware for the frantic vocal introduction to "Bandana Babies," but even so, these fellows sound silly alongside the tougher, more authentically equipped female singers. The masterpieces of 1929, including a rowdy six minutes of "Tiger Rag," would never have taken place without several years of early experimentation. With this in mind, the liner notes could have spared readers the disparaging remarks about "disappointing" material from 1925 and 1926. A healthy critical overview, especially of the Ellington story, should put the preferred recordings into perspective by honoring the artists for their innovative work during a time when making jazz records at all was still a rather new proposition. Disappointment is a byproduct of preconception. Ellington's early recordings are never disappointing when the listener surrenders to the simple joy of hearing music from so long ago, played in a manner which obviously made sense to those involved in its creation.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/07/2003
Label: Jazz Legends
UPC: 0723724584228
catalogNumber: 1014

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Duke Ellington   Primary Artist,Piano,Soloist
Lonnie Johnson   Guitar
Johnny Hodges   Alto Clarinet,Soprano Clarinet
Adelaide Hall   Vocals
Louis Metcalf   Trumpet
Irving Mills   Vocals
Bubber Miley   Trumpet
Wellman Braud   Bass
Sonny Greer   Drums
Barney Bigard   Clarinet (Tenor)
Harry Carney   Alto Clarinet,Baritone Clarinet
Fred Guy   Banjo
Charlie Irvis   Trombone
Rudy Jackson   Clarinet (Tenor)
Freddy Jenkins   Trumpet
Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton   Trombone
Arthur Whetsol   Trumpet
Baby Cox   Vocals
Otto Hardwick   Alto Clarinet,Baritone Clarinet,Clarinet (Tenor)
Bass Edwards   Tuba
Ozie Ware   Vocals

Technical Credits

Eddie Edwards   Composer
Nick LaRocca   Composer
Irving Mills   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Bubber Miley   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Barney Bigard   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
J.C. Johnson   Composer
Henry W. Ragas   Composer
Tony Sbarbaro   Composer
Larry Shields   Composer
Scott Yanow   Liner Notes
Otto Hardwick   Composer
J.C. Jones   Composer
Dave Ringle   Composer
Bob Schafer   Composer
Harry Da Costa   Composer

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