Big Bands Live: Duke Ellington Orchestra arrives via Jazzhaus. Although recently released, it was recorded March 6, 1967 at Liederhalle Stuttgart, Germany. This live concert exhibits a progressive Duke Ellington, also featuring charts by Billy Strayhorn and Raymond Fol.
On the bluesy “Swampy Goo”, the orchestra updates their signature ’20s “jungle” sound, driven by clarinet choir led by soloist Russell Procope. Paul Gonsalves takes the reins on “Knob Hill”, ‘shedding on tenor sax. “La Plus Belle Africaine” finds Cat Anderson’s trumpet soaring stratospherically while Harry Carney delivers grittily on baritone saxophone. Carney later conveys a touching narrative on “A Chromatic Love Affair”, making his baritone sound tender. Cootie Williams commands on the muted trumpet features “The Shepherd” and “Tutti For Cootie”.
Big Bands Live is a testament to Ellington’s arrangements as well as to the musical personalities of his orchestra members. His legacy shines loftily on this quality live recording.