Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kenny Burrell - Ellington is Forever (1 & 2)

For fans of jazz, it is deeply, satisfyingly appropriate that Kenny Burrell should be the one to organize this splendid homage to Duke Ellington. It is a well-known fact that Burrell was the Duke's favorite guitarist, and legend has it that on one occasion when Burrell couldn't make a date, Ellington chose to cut the guitar part from the score rather than have it performed by a lesser player. On Ellington Is Forever, Vol. 1, Burrell has put together a small big band, if you will, to perform 12 Ellington or Strayhorn compositions. It is a high-class affair, featuring such notables as Jimmy Smith, Thad Jones, and Joe Henderson, who turns in one of the most memorable solos on the record on "Caravan." The leader remains mostly inconspicuous throughout, comping tastefully and soloing with his typical funkiness when the music calls for it, but never drawing undue attention to himself. In fact, Burrell is so subservient to the music, so respectful of the contributions of his fellow musicians, that one would never guess that Ellington Is Forever is his own project. This is clearly an affectionate tribute, one born out of close association as well as great appreciation. Besides Burrell, another notable Ellington collaborator present on these dates is pianist Jimmy Jones, whose solo rendition of "Take the 'A' Train" puts the song "in requiem status" according to no less an authority than Jerome Richardson, who is also present on this record. What makes Ellington Is Forever really special, however, is the presence of vocalist Ernie Andrews on two tracks, who swings soulfully through terrific renditions of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "My Little Brown Book." A long time favorite of Burrell, Andrews simply owns this material. His contributions are too brief. As far as shortcomings are concerned, it ought to be mentioned that the recording is slightly lacking in lower frequency response. For example, Stanley Gilbert's bass, though masterfully played, lacks the resonance that the listener would like to hear. This, however, is a minor complaint. Ellington Is Forever, Vol. 1 is a fitting tribute to one of the giants of American music, and the second volume, which followed two years later, is just as good.
Daniel Gioffre

Source :

Kenny Burrell
Ellington Is Forever
vol. 1


1 Jump for Joy (Ellington, Kuller, Webster) 1:48
2 Caravan (Ellington, Mills, Tizol) 8:38
3 Chelsea Bridge (Strayhorn) 4:37
4 Mood Indigo (Bigard, Ellington, Mills) 4:33
5 Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Ellington, Russell) 3:15
6 C Jam Blues (Bigard, Ellington) 15:31
7 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) (Ellington, Mills) 9:34
8 I Didn't Know About You (Ellington, Russell) 5:11
9 My Little Brown Book (Strayhorn) 3:28
10 Blues Medley: Carnegie Blues/Rocks in My Bed/Jeep's Blues/...
(Ellington, Hodges, Jackson) 10:26
11 Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me (Ellington, Russell 2:53
12 Take the "A" Train (Strayhorn) 2:57

Kenny Burrell - g
Thad Jones - crt & flgh
Snooky Young - tp
Jon Faddis - tp & piccolo tp
Joe Henderson - ts
Jerome Richardson - ts & ss
Jimmy Jones - p
Jimmy Smith - org
Stanley Gilbert - b
Jimmie Smith - dr
Richie Goldberg, Mel Lewis - perc [# 2]
Ernie Andrews - voc [# 5 & 9]

Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California ; February 4 & 5, 1975


The modus operandi of Ellington Is Forever, Vol. 2 is essentially the same as the first ; Kenny Burrell gathered a great bunch of musicians together in a studio for a relaxed yet masterful tour through some of Ellington's best-known material. The sole exception to the Ellingtonia is the Strayhorn-penned "Take the 'A' Train," a song that will forever be associated with the Duke. Jimmy Jones provided a stunning solo reading of this composition on the first volume, but it gets a full band treatment on Vol. 2, and features a fantastic solo from Burrell, a bluesy romp through the changes. In fact, the leader seems to be a bit more present on this album compared to Ellington Is Forever, Vol. 1. This is not to say, however, that the excellent contributions of the many musicians on this record go without benefit of the spotlight. One only has to listen to Roland Hanna's solo piano introduction to "In a Sentimental Mood" or Philly Joe Jones' masterful brushwork on "I'm Beginning to See the Light" to realize the immense quality of the musicianship on display on this record. As on the first album, Ernie Andrews appears here on two tracks. His contributions, so essential to the overall quality of the first volume, are somewhat mixed here. His rendition of "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" is controlled and soulful, but his interpretation of "Satin Doll" seems a bit forced. However, this may seem this case only because the listener cannot help but compare it to the near-perfection of his performances on Vol. 1. Of historical note is the fact that this is the last recording to feature trombonist Quentin "Butter" Jackson, who passed away after the sessions were recorded but before the album could be released. Although he plays his horn with the confidence and expertise of a man who had been involved with some of the greatest bandleaders of all time (including Ellington), the most exquisite moment on this record is his singing on "Prelude to a Kiss." His soft, tremulous voice is frail and heart wrenching, and the fact of its inclusion alone is worth the price of admission. Burrell's initial plan was to release a volume in tribute to Ellington once a year, but this record and the one that preceded it were the only two albums in this proposed series that were ever made. One can only imagine what could have been if Burrell had continued. Alternately, and more positively, one can be glad that the only records that were released were as beautiful and as close to perfection as these two.
Daniel Gioffre

Source :

Kenny Burrell
Ellington Is Forever
vol. 2


1 Azure (Ellington, Mills) 1:50
2 Take the "A" Train (Strayhorn) 7:37
3 In a Sentimental Mood (Ellington, Kurtz, Mills) 5:30
4 I'm Beginning to See the Light (Ellington, George, Hodges) 4:17
5 Satin Doll (Ellington, Mercer, Strayhorn) 3:32
6 I'm Just a Lucky So and So (David, Ellington) 5:37
7 In a Mellow Tone (Ellington, Gabler) 5:47
8 Solitude (DeLange, Ellington, Mills) 3:19
9 The Jeep Is Jumpin' (Ellington, Hodges) 4:57
10 I Let a Song Go out of My Heart (Ellington, Mills, Nemo) 6:56
11 Prelude to a Kiss (Ellington, Gordon, Mills) :26
12 Satin Doll (Segue) (Ellington, Mercer, Strayhorn) 2:56
13 Come Sunday (Ellington) 3:10
14 Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me) (Ellington, Gaines) 8:01
15 I Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues (Ellington, George) 7:45
16 Orson 3:36

Kenny Burrell - g
Snooky Young - tp
Quentin "Butter" Jackson - tb & voc [# 11]
Nat Adderley, Thad Jones - crt
Joe Henderson, Jerome Richardson - ts
Gary Bartz - as
Jimmy Smith - org
Jimmy Jones, Roland Hanna - p
Stanley Gilbert, George Mraz - b
Monk Montgomery - el b
Jimmie Smith, Philly Joe Jones - dr
Ernie Andrews - voc [# 5]

Recorded and mixed at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley ; November-December 1975.


Otis Foster said...

Thanks as always. This give s me both Vols.

jpo said...

awesome-- n ow i can upgrade the shitty quality i paid good money for. thanks my friend-- this is the best pure jazz guitar blog--period.

Jesse said...

This record looks beautiful. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch for anything with Mel Lewis playing the drums!



grumpy said...

Thanks once again.

Melanchthon said...

Jazzhound said...

Thanks so much for this jewel.

None of the current PWs seem to work.

Melanchthon said...

Use Melanchthon with a capital M

Jazzhound said...

Thanks again. I didn't have the capitalized version in my PWs.

Love this album, Mel. Truly a classic.

John Pickworth said...

Many thanks for this gem !

fcapeau said...

Many thanks, Mel, for this beautiful post.