Duke Ellington Uptown

Duke Ellington Uptown


Duke Ellington (piano, director), Billy Strayhorn (piano), Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope, Hilton Jefferson (saxophones), William Anderson, Clark Terry, Willie Cook, Ray Nance (trumpet), Juan Tizol, Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman (trombone), Wendell Marshall (bass), Louis Bellson (drums)

Columbia 4639

Pure Pleasure Records : LP 180 gram

Brand New and Sealed Record

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1. Skin Deep
2. The Mooche
3. Take The 'A' Train
4. A Tone Parallel To Harlem
5. Perdido

Recorded on December 7 & 11, 1951 and February 29, June 30 & July 1, 1952.

Even back in the early '50s, Columbia Records took Duke Ellington seriously enough to place this album on its prestigious Masterworks label, heretofore reserved mostly for highbrow classical music and Broadway shows (later in the decade, though, it was retitled Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown and reissued on the pop series with an additional piece, "The Controversial Suite"). Also, this LP explodes the critical line that the early '50s was a relatively fallow period for the Duke; any of these smoking, concert-length tracks will torpedo that notion. The young Louie Bellson was powering the Ellington band at that time, and his revolutionary double-bass drum technique and rare ability to build coherent drum solos are put to astounding use on his self-penned leadoff track, "Skin Deep," which was quite a demonstration piece for audiophiles at the time. Old favorites from the Ellington hit parade are given extended treatments, with singer Betty Roche taking the A-train for a bebop-flavored ride, "The Mooche" spotlighting clarinetists Jimmy Hamilton and Russell Procope, and Ellington's boogie-woogie piano kicking off a super-charged "Perdido" for trumpeter Clark Terry. The centerpiece of the disc is a sharply drawn, idiomatically swinging, probably unbeatable performance of "A Tone Parallel to Harlem" that lays waste to any of the "symphonic" versions that turn up frequently at pop concerts. Another feature of this record is the great sound quality, a benefit of being entrusted to Columbia's best engineers.

This Pure Pleasure LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the original analogue studio tapes through to the cutting head and was pressed with virgin vinyl at Pallas.