Friday, February 12, 2010

After Hours

Duke Ellington. It Don't Mean a Thing

You can argue about it, but I'm pretty sure this was Duke's best lineup. You had everybody AND Ben Webster. Yeah, the synching to his solo is pretty bad, but it's still a very brash bit of playing. It starts out with trumpet player Ray Nance on violin. And then he sings. This guy pulled triple duty a lot of the time (trumpet, violin, vocals). It don't know who the other singer is. Cat Anderson? Somebody else?? It's kind of a happy coincidence that they're both decent vocalists, because if Duke had a single weakness, it's that he used to hire terrible singers. That's why everybody else did more definitive vocal versions of his tunes. And most often they did it with far worse arrangements. But I mean, Ivie Anderson? Really? Al Hibbler? Puh-lease! But happily, everybody sounds good here - singers and band guys. Yeah, swing music used to matter to people and this is why.

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