The Second Disc

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Three From FiveFour: Jazz Label Offers Gil Evans on Hendrix, Plus Don Ellis and Duke Ellington

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Ellington Jazz PartyCherry Red’s recently-reactivated FiveFour label’s latest trawl into the Sony jazz archives has delivered another three rare titles to CD.  All have been available in the format before, though one is particularly difficult to find, and all three should have great appeal.

The oldest selection of the trio hails from 1959.  Duke Ellington’s Jazz Party welcomed Dizzy Gillespie as well as Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Jones and Ellington’s longtime sax man, Jimmy Hodges.  Ellington and his frequent collaborator and co-writer Billy Strayhorn brought new tunes to the party, including the four-part, punningly-titled “Toot Suite” featuring Britt Woodman (trombone) on Part One, Jimmy Hamilton (saxophone) and Shorty Baker (trumpet) on Part Two, Russell Procope (saxophone) and Quentin Jackson (trombone) on Part Three, and Paul Gonsalves (saxophone) on Part Four.  The already-legendary Gillespie got his chance to show off his horn on Strayhorn’s “U.M.M.G.” (for Upper Manhattan Medical Group), while pianist Jones and former Count Basie Band vocalist Rushing join the Duke for Ellington’s “Hello, Little Girl.”  Two tracks not on the original 1959 Columbia LP, “Fillie Trillie” and the ubiquitous “Satin Doll,” have been included in the album sequence here.  Jazz Party makes a fine addendum to Ellington’s recently-released Complete Columbia Albums Collection 1951-1958 on the Legacy label, as it was released the following year after that set’s final album, Cosmic Scene.

After the jump: Al Kooper meets Don Ellis, and Gil Evans pays homage to Jimi Hendrix!  Plus: full track listings and order links!

Don Ellis - AutumnFiveFour jumps to 1969 for the next title in this group, Don Ellis and His Orchestra’s Autumn.  Trumpeter Ellis had a diverse career, from an early stint with Glenn Miller’s big band through stints with Maynard Ferguson and George Russell’s groups.  Ellis’ forward-thinking style, featuring extensive experimentation with time signatures and unusual rhythms inspired by his studies of ethnomusicology, garnered him the attention of luminaries like Leonard Bernstein and Columbia Records’ John Hammond.  He was a success on the college circuit, and opened for the likes of Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead.  The great A&R man Hammond signed Ellis to Columbia in 1967, and his first LP for the label, Electric Bath, was an instant success on the critical and commercial levels.  Autumn was his third Columbia outing, and was produced by wunderkind jazz/rock artist Al Kooper.  The album of lengthy compositions was divided between in-studio tracks recorded in Hollywood, and live performances from Stanford University.   Kooper captured the often-ebullient rock and soul of Ellis’ big band and its leader’s virtuosic playing.  Following Autumn, Ellis would continue to diversify, and in 1971, scored the film The French Connection and won a Grammy Award for his work.  Autumn has long been difficult to find on CD, and so this reissue should hopefully go a long way in reminding jazz aficionados of the late artist’s considerable achievements.  (Ellis’ other Columbia titles such as Goes Underground and Connection would make welcome reissues, too, for Fivefour.)

Gil Evans - HendrixLastly, FiveFour reissues Gil Evans’ 1974 tribute to a fallen icon, The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix.  The renowned arranger’s work with Miles Davis assured him a place in the history books, but he also had a considerable recording career as a bandleader, with highlights including 1957 debut Gil Evans and 10 (Prestige), 1960 masterpiece Out of the Cool (Impulse!) and 1964 classic The Individualism of Gil Evans (Verve).  He even found time to arrange sessions for vocalist Astrud Gilberto, also for Verve, resulting in her Look for the Rainbow album.  Like his onetime collaborator Davis, though, Evans began to develop an interest in jazz-rock and free jazz, veering away from his larger orchestral arranging style.  His Hendrix tribute LP remains one of his most enduring albums in the jazz-rock vein and one of the most significant projects to that point in time to consider Hendrix seriously as a songwriter.  Rather than aping Hendrix on guitar, Evans employs a horn section including David Sanborn to bring unusual colors to the guitar great’s songs.  Surely Hendrix never imagined a tuba solo on “Voodoo Chile,” but here it is!  The controversial album (also featuring guitarist John Abercrombie, trumpeter Marvin C. Peterson and saxophonist Billy Harper) may not be for everyone, but it remains a unique entry in the Evans catalogue, and one of the most vividly creative musical tributes to Hendrix.  Like the previous U.S. CD reissue, FiveFour’s edition includes four bonus tracks: “Little Wing,” plus alternate takes of “Castles Made of Sand,” “Up from the Skies” and “Gypsy Eyes.”

All three titles from FiveFour are low on frills, but contain brief new notes along with the original LP liners.  They’re available now, and can be ordered at the links below!  Click on the title for the Amazon U.S. link!

The Gil Evans Orchestra, Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix (RCA CPL1-0667, 1974 – reissued FiveFour 32, 2012) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. Angel
  2. Crosstown Traffic
  3. Medley: Castles Made of Sand/Foxy Lady
  4. Up from the Skies
  5. 1983: A Merman I Should Turn to Be
  6. Voodoo Chile
  7. Gypsy Eyes
  8. Little Wing
  9. Angel (Alternate)
  10. Castles Made of Sand (Alternate)
  11. Up from the Skies (Alternate)
  12. Gypsy Eyes (Alternate)

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Ellington Jazz Party (Columbia CS 8127, 1959 – reissued FiveFour 34, 2012) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. Malletoba Spank
  2. Toot Suite: Red Garter
  3. Toot Suite: Red Shoes
  4. Toot Suite: Red Carpet
  5. Toot Suite: Ready, Go!
  6. Satin Doll
  7. U.M.M.G.
  8. All of Me
  9. Tymperturbably Blue
  10. Fillie Trillie
  11. Hello, Little Girl

Don Ellis and His Orchestra, Autumn (FiveFour 33, 2012) (Amazon U.K.)

  1. Variations for Trumpet
  2. Scratt and Fluggs
  3. Pussy Wiggle Stomp
  4. K.C. Blues
  5. Child of Ecstasy
  6. Indian Lady

Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2013 at 08:44

One Response

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  1. Does this version of Ellington Jazz Party have the fake applause?

    Steve Marshall

    January 3, 2013 at 16:31

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