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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges play the blues - Back to Back

HMV Records Verve series (UK release of Verve MGV 8317), CLP 1316, 1959

Featuring Duke Ellington, piano; Johnny Hodges, alto saxophone;  Harry 'Sweets' Edison, trumpet; Les Spann, guitar; Al Hall or Sam Jones on bass and Jo Jones, drums, this is quite an unusual album in that the entire repertoire consists of the blues, in various celebrated selections, with Ellington on top form on piano, and Hodges, Edison and Spann soloing at the top of their game.  The tunes are: 'Wabash Blues' (Meinken - Ringle), 'Basin Street Blues' (Spencer Williams), Beale Street Blues' (W. C. Handy), 'Weary Blues' (Matthews), 'St. Louis Blues' (W. C. Handy), 'Loveless Love (aka 'Careless Love', a traditional tune first published by W. C. Handy), and 'Royal Garden Blues', also by Spencer Williams. This album has a four star rating in "The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Jazz", and is a companion volume to "Side To Side", also featuring Ellington and Hodges, and published in the same year.

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