Home        page up

Sonothèque/Jazz/Ellingtonia/Duke Ellington & Count Basie/First Time! The Count meets the Duke



  Duke Ellington & Count Basie - First Time! The Count Meets The Duke
Track Title Year Length Comment Mode Codec Bitrate Size
1 Battle Royal 1961 05:35 Stereo Vorbis 240 9,71 MB
2 To You 1961 03:57 Stereo Vorbis 220 6,32 MB
3 Take The "A" Train 1961 03:49 Stereo Vorbis 238 6,62 MB
4 Until I Met You 1961 04:57 Stereo Vorbis 236 8,46 MB
5 Wild Man 1961 05:45 Stereo Vorbis 244 10,16 MB
6 Segue In C 1961 08:25 Stereo Vorbis 229 13,92 MB
7 B D B 1961 04:05 Stereo Vorbis 223 6,63 MB
8 Jumpin' At The Woodside 1961 03:07 Stereo Vorbis 246 5,61 MB
  8 file(s) Length: 00:39:40 Size: 67,42 MB

Studio album by Duke Ellington and Count Basie, released in 1961, recorded on July 6, 1961 (Columbia 30th Street Studio, NYC) - Label: Columbia

The musical event which is presented in this collection is without precedent in the history of jazz. History largely consists of chronicling momentous occasions, and it was such an occasion when the full orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie recorded together, side by side, on July 6th, 1961. The result is almost an embarrassment of riches. It is great in significance, great in musical content and, above all, great in demonstrating the two famous leaders’ mutual appreciation and understanding of each other.

The album takes its title from Duke’s opening number. A general melee is suggested, but there is no battle of bands. Fourteen soloists display their various skills in contributing to a work devised for a thirty-piece orchestra. What tilting there is between individuals is conducted as in some royal tournament governed by the canons of chivalry.

“I didn‘t want to make a contest out of it,” Duke said afterwards.” I just wanted to have a very pleasant visit. When friends get together you have a visit, not a fight. I greatly appreciated having Count Basie as our guest at Columbia. He is wonderful, of course, and he represents something very special. He has a great band, and they play exactly what they want to play, and no one else can play what they play like they play it. The session was a triumph, because we did something together that had never been done before".

Count Basie valued the opportunity no less than his host. “This has always been one of my life’s ambitions," he said during a brief intermission. “We‘re playing with the champions.” In fact, one of the more moving aspects of the collaboration was the musical tribute he so willingly paid, and with such grace and sincerity, to the musician he admires so much, Duke Ellington. He provided, in turn, his own inspired simplicity, his blues truths, his sense of rightness and inevitability.

The feeling of mutual esteem extended from the leaders throughout their bands. Gathered this day was the cream of the profession, men with a thoroughly professional and sophisticated attitude, who recognized one another‘s gifts not only as soloists but as capable musicians with whom they could work harmoniously towards the creation of an orchestral whole. The measure of their ability is found in these eight performances, cut without rehearsal in one long, charged session. Essential and magnificent qualities came together, sparked and fused to make an unique music.

Duke‘s brilliant Battle Royal serves to introduce, at up-tempo, some of the major talents in the assembled company. Besides the solo voices of the two leaders are those of Cat Anderson and Thad Jones (in a brief fanfare), Frank Wess, Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, Harry Carney, Jimmy Hamilton, Frank Foster, Lawrence Brown, Cat Anderson again, and Paul Gonsalves. The rhythm section here consists of the pianists, Freddie Greene, Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard, but it is joined by Sonny Payne for a brisk exchange with Sam and for the stormy climax where Cat orbits and Duke, rising to conduct, entrusts the piano part to able hands.

To You, as created by Thad Jones, is a dark, richly textured orchestral tapestry in which the only solo is by Quentin Jackson. Five trombones provide a sombre background to his melancholy plunger artistry.

On Billy Strayhorn’s Take the “A“ Train, Count Basie bowed out in favor of the composer. who was on hand in the studio. So Billy solos here with an accompaniment by Duke. who finds new chords to introduce his familiar signature tune. Trumpets Sonny Cohn and Ray Nance dialog first in eight»bar passages, then in fours as do Jimmy Hamilton on clarinet and Budd Johnson on tenor.

Freddie Greene’s Until I Met You, formerly known as Corner Pocket, has Count and Duke back at the pianos. The spread of the scoring sets the fourteen brass off to advantage. The soloists are Willie Cook and Paul Gonsalves, and Duke can be heard feeding his men in the manner to which they are accustomed.

Wild Man is another new work of Duke‘s devising. Juan Tizol’s tambourine supplements Sam Woodyard’s handbeaten drums in the introduction. Frank Wess and Jimmy Hamilton converse wittily on flute and clarinet respectively. There is a muted chorus from Lawrence Brown and two from Johnny Hodges, who answers the ensemble in his inimitable fashion. Then Thad Jones and Cat Anderson take a chorus each before chasing each other through a third. Next, there‘s a chorus by Frank Foster, followed by one from Paul Gonsalves, followed by two in which they trade fours. Lawrence Brown appears again; Cat and Johnny Hodges are heard with the ensemble; and then there is a return to the flute and clarinet duo.

Frank Wess‘ Segue in C is one of the outstanding arrangements in the Basie book and both bands clearly find its color and variety stimulating. The pianists make a very important contribution on this one. Frank Wess is heard on flute and Budd Johnson in four authoritative tenor choruses. Louis Blackburn, who maintains the tradition of plunger trombone in Duke’s band, takes two choruses, and there is a moment of heightened interest when he is followed by a predecessor, Quentin Jackson, now with Count Basie. To the trio part he usually plays with the muted trumpets of Sonny Cohn and Thad Jones, Frank Wess adds Ray Nance’s fiddle with great success. The saxes play a low recurring phrase and the muted brass sets up its own strong rhythm. This is a swinger at one of those tempos Count Basie is so skilled in setting.

BDB (for Basie, Duke and Billy) was written by Billy Strayhorn in collaboration with Duke. It’s a pretty blues in a minor mood at an insinuating tempo. The two reed sections are extensively featured.

Jumpin’ at the Woodside is a Basie classic arranged by Frank Foster, and Frank and Paul Gonsalves are the stars of an uproarious performance. After each has soloed, they set out, above a torrent of fourteen brass, on a wild chase in which continuity is marvelously preserved.

With the exception of the opening number, on which both take part, Sam Woodyard drums on the Ellington camp's pieces, Sonny Payne on those from Basie‘s. Freddie Greene plays on all, joining the operative bass and drums in each case. The urge to play proving too strong, both basses are to be heard on occasion, but generally it is Aaron Bell with Sam Woodyard and Eddie Jones with Sonny Payne. The sensitive interplay between the two pianists highlights the entire album. They should be pictured as peering at one another beneath the lids of their instruments, sometimes intent, sometimes smiling enigmatically, and often communicating in mime.

—STANLEY DANCE
Liner notes taken from the original analogue release.

Filed on 17/06/2016