Monday, June 20, 2011

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington: The Great Reunion

Review # 18
Artist: Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington
Title: The Great Reunion
Format: LP
Label: Emus
Year: 1961
Songs: 7

I love Duke Ellington.  He was the first jazz artist I ever got an album by. I'll be reviewing a lot more of his stuff before this project is over, especially in the cd portion of the blog.  You put him together with Louis Armstrong and you've got a combination that's hard to beat. These two men were masters of their art form and collaborate wonderfully on this record. This is one of the best jazz records in my collection, and while I'm not an expert on jazz, I'm inclined to think it's one of the best ever recorded. I just love this album.

The line-up here is Armstrong and his regular band, plus Ellington on piano. The songs are all, according to the liner notes, arranged by Ellington, and many (all?) of them are classics from the Ellington catalogue, such as "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." But the record sounds like both of these artists. Neither eclipses the other, and the unique and enjoyable styles of both artists are clearly evident on every song.  Armstrong sings on all the tracks, and, even more than usual, he sounds like he's having a great time. The songs are full of energy.  Even the slower ones like "I've Got It Bad And That Ain't Good" and "Azalea" flow so naturally and feel like they just move along under their own power.

The swinging tunes on the record are wonderful romps. For example, the record starts with "It Don't Mean a Thing," which in my book is one of the most fun jazz tunes ever recorded. The pacing on this rendition is just right--fast, but not frantic, and we get a little bit of Armstrong's famous scatting, too.
My only complaint about this record is that it's only seven songs.  I'd love another five or six.  Apparently the "reunion" in the title is a reference to the fact that this is the second collaboration between Armstrong and Ellington. I've never heard it, but I'm going to have to get my hands on the first one, one of these days, because seven songs is just not enough when it's this good.

Here's "Azalea" if you want to check it out.

Total songs listened: 227

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of my favorites!