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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

In A Mellowtone - Duke Ellington


Main Stem

In A Mellotone
Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
Photo by Robert Parent
RCA Victor LPM-1364

From the back cover: It is generally agreed among many musicians and almost all critics that the single, most sustained creative period of Ellington-the-instrumentalist-through-his-orchestra occurred between 1940-44. It should be made clear that there were many important productive Ellington orchestral experiences before and since these four years, but if any one chronological slice were to be chosen as containing the most continually satisfying achievements of Ellington-the-leader-writer, it would be 1940-44. And unfortunately, there was a recording band from August 1942, to November 1944.

The record of this particular period remains astonishing in the absorbing consistency of most of the works by Ellington (and also Strayhorn) and in the fused, fluent, powerful, relaxed and, in short, magnificent level of execution by the band as a whole, and by its soloists individually.

This is the personnel of the band as of early 1940: 

Trumpets - Wallace Jones, Cootie Williams & Rex Stewart
Trombones - Joe Nanton, Juan Tizol & Lawrence Brown
Clarinet - Barney Bigard
Saxophones - Otto Hardwick, Johnny Hodges, altos; Ben Webster, tenor; Harry Carney, baritone
Rhythm Section - Fred Guy, guitar; Sonny Greer, drums; Jimmy Blanton, bass; Duke Ellington, piano

From Billboard - December 29, 1956: Here's a fine collectors' item, which should chalk up an impressive sales record as well as plenty of deejay spins. Album spotlights Ellington's wonderful band of 1940, '41 and '42, and includes such all-time great Ellingtonia as "Take The "A" Train," "I Got It Bad" with Ivy Anderson, and "In A Mellotone." Impressive mood-photo of the Duke on the cover is eye-catching display plus.

Take The "A" Train - February 13, 1941
A Portrait Of Bert Williams - May 28, 1940
Main Stem - June 26, 1942
Just A-Setting And A-Rockin' - June 5, 1941
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good (Ivie Anderson) - June 26, 1941
Perdido - January 21, 1942
Blue Serge - February 13, 1941
The Flaming Sword - October 17, 1940
In A Mellotone - September 5, 1940
Cotton Tail - May 4, 1940
I Don't Know What Kind Of Blue I Got (Herb Jeffries) - December 2, 1941
Rumpus In Richmond - June 22, 1949
All Too Soon - July 22, 1940
Sepia Panorama - July 24, 1940
Rocks In My Bed - September 26, 1942
What Am I Here For? - February 26, 1942

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