Jazz at 100 Hour 58: Still Swinging

Duke Ellington – Max Roach – Charles Mingus

Duke Ellington and Benny Carter, whose careers stretched back to the 1920s, continued to be vital musical presences in the 1960s. In this hour we will hear examples of their late career work and that of two veteran Ellingtonians, alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves. Swing giants in the 1960s in this hour of Jazz at 100.

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane.
In its attempt to assure John Coltrane a mainstream audience, Impulse! Records producer Bob Thiele paired him with Duke Ellington in a now legendary session. “…the session with Duke Ellington was a daring move—both parties may have seemed accommodating on the surface, yet each was driven by a tough-as-nails commitment to his personal musical principles—but this odd couple proved that, on occasion, demigods do consent to give-and-take. On ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ Coltrane even elicited a breathtakingly fresh reconfiguration of the standard from Ellington (of a piece Duke had been playing regularly for almost thirty years). Sometime later, Johnny Hodges, who had put an indelible stamp on this composition as a member of the Ellington band, told the record’s producer, Bob Thiele, that Coltrane’s version was “the most beautiful interpretation I’ve ever heard.” – Ted Gioia

In A Sentimental Mood. Duke Ellington Trio and John Coltrane Trio
(John Coltrane-ts, Duke Ellington-p, Aaron Bell-b, Elvin Jones-d). From Duke Ellington & John Coltrane. 9/26/1962

Duke Ellington.
Nine days before the Coltrane session, Ellington had recorded another all-star session, this time, the soundtrack for the movie Money Jungle with Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. “The atmosphere at the session was a little tender: Mingus didn’t like Roach’s accompaniment … and respectfully threatened to cut it short, only to be talked down by Ellington’s shrewd blandishments… The music has its feelings on the surface. Ellington rises to the occasion, becoming a nasty blues player. Roach uses a peaks-and-valleys attack in his drumming – a pronounced lope, rather than an evenly spread swing. In ‘Wig Wise,’ a driving, abrupt, boogie blues, the B-section grows frantic, with Roach stoking the cymbals and Mingus filling the space with outrageously bubbling pizzicato. Mingus fights with his strings, plucking them and producing loud snapping glissandos. (Here you see the seeds of William Parker’s melodic-rhythmic bass style in the following generation.)” – Ben Ratliff

Wig Wise. Duke Ellington with Charlie Mingus and Max Roach
(Duke Ellington-p, Charlie Mingus-b, Max Roach-d). From Money Jungle. 9/17/1962

Warm Valley. Duke Ellington with Charlie Mingus and Max Roach
(Duke Ellington-p, Charlie Mingus-b, Max Roach-d). From Money Jungle. 9/17/1962

In 1966, Ellington was back in the studio with his band recording a late career masterpiece, Far East Suite, one of his last collaborations with Billy Strayhorn, who died five months later. “The tone colors in these arrangements rank with Ellington and Strayhorn’s finest, and Ellington lets the band rip, capitalizing on all its greatest felicities. Gonsalves’s tenor saxophone smokily lines out the melody in ‘Tourist Point of View,’ with twin clarinets playing high organ chords… The luxurious ‘Isfahan’ is one of the greatest concerti Ellington [and Strayhorn] ever wrote for Johnny Hodges’s smearing glissandos.” – Ben Ratliff

Tourist Point of View. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
(Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Mercer Ellington, Herb Jones, Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, John Lamb, Rufus Jones). From Far East Suite. 12/19/1966

Isfahan. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
(Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Mercer Ellington, Herb Jones, Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, John Lamb, Rufus Jones). From Far East Suite. 12/20/1966

Johnny Hodges.
In 1964, Johnny Hodges assembled an octet of Ellingtonians for a session at Impulse!. “Impulse! was where the new thing in jazz was gathering force, but Bob Thiele and the label were also responsive to some of the older stars … [issuing Benny Carter’s LP Further Definitions] and blended musicians of different generations (Duke and Trane), so Hodges seemed an obvious choice. Billy Strayhorn composed ‘310 Blues’ specially for the occasion and takes another credit with ‘A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing’.” – Brian Morton & Richard Cook

310 Blues. Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra
(Ray Nance, Cat Anderson-tp, Lawrence Brown-tb, Johnny Hodges-as, Paul Gonsalves-ts, Jimmy Jones-p, Ernie Shepard-b, Grady Tate-d). From Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges. 2/6/1964

A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing. Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra
(Ray Nance, Cat Anderson-tp, Lawrence Brown-tb, Johnny Hodges-as, Paul Gonsalves-ts, Jimmy Jones-p, Ernie Shepard-b, Grady Tate-d). From Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges. 2/6/1964

Paul Gonsalves.
In contrast to Johnny Hodges outing, where the alto saxophonist is surrounded by mostly Ellingtonians, when Duke’s tenor player, Paul Gonsalves, recorded his 1960 masterpiece Getting’ Together, he brought in a band of hard bop all-stars, Nat Adderley on cornet, Wynton Kelly on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. “Gettin’ Together is a remarkable album, beautifully played and recorded… [T]he ballads … have the feel of old-time work brought somewhat up to date. Kelly’s work on … ‘I Cover The Waterfront’ is blue-chip, and Adderley’s fragile, over-confident tone fits in perfectly with the leader’s spinning, effortlessly logical lines. It doesn’t happen here, where studio constraints keep durations down, but one always feels that Gonsalves could play on serenely on any of these themes. Even the opening ‘Yesterdays’ has the potential for epic. – Brain Morton & Richard Cook

I Cover The Waterfront. Paul Gonsalves Quintet
(Nat Adderley-cor, Paul Gonsalves-ts, Wynton Kelly-p, Sam Jones-b, Jimmy Cobb-d). From Getting’ Together. 12/20/1960

Yesterdays. Paul Gonsalves Quintet
(Nat Adderley-cor, Paul Gonsalves-ts, Wynton Kelly-p, Sam Jones-b, Jimmy Cobb-d). From Getting’ Together. 12/20/1960

Benny Carter.
Benny Carter’s Impulse! release, Further Definitions, with a group consisting of four reeds and four rhythm players “…is the best-known of all Carter’s albums. Economics may have enjoined smaller ensembles, but Carter’s feel for reed voicing is such that loss is turned to gain. The added profit is a spacious but intimate sound. [Benny] Carter and [Coleman] Hawkins had recorded together in Paris before the war in exactly the same configuration as these sides: four saxophones, piano, bass, drums and guitar … All the saxophones solo on ‘Cotton Tail’, with Benny leading off and Bean [Coleman Hawkins] bringing things to a magisterial, slyly witty close. ‘Blue Star’ is intriguing: a complex, deceptive theme with another effective saxophone interchange.” – Brian Morton & Richard Cook

Cotton Tail. Benny Carter Nonet
(Benny Carter-as, Phil Woods-as, Coleman Hawkins-ts, Charlie Rouse-ts, Dick Katz-p, John Collins-g, Jimmy Garrison-b, Jo Jones-d). From Further Definitions. 11/15/1961

Blue Star. Benny Carter Nonet
(Benny Carter-as, Phil Woods-as, Coleman Hawkins-ts, Charlie Rouse-ts, Dick Katz-p, John Collins-g, Jimmy Garrison-b, Jo Jones-d). From Further Definitions. 11/15/1961

Throughout the preparation of these programs, we have been guided by the belief that the development of jazz is not a linear progression. Instead we see the music as a tapestry that becomes more complex as time goes on, with many inter-related strains existing in parallel, with creative highlights coming from many different sources. These mid-century masterpieces from artists who pioneered the music in the 1920s illustrate this assertion.

Fueled by the 1959 international release of the movie Black Orpheus and through reports from US jazz players returning from South American tours, the Brazilian music bossa nova found its way into American jazz in the early 1960s, becoming a permanent part of the jazz fusion. Stan Getz, in particular, appreciated bossa nova as the interaction between cool jazz and samba and collaborated successfully with many of the pioneers of the new music, including Luis Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim & João Gilberto. Stan Getz and bossa nova in the next hour of Jazz at 100.

Recordings.
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane. Impulse A 30
Duke Ellington. Money Jungle. United Artists UAJ-14017
Duke Ellington. Far East Suite. RCA LPM 3782
Johnny Hodges. Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges. Impulse A 61
Paul Gonsalves. Getting’ Together. Jazzland JLP 36
Benny Carter. Further Definitions. Impulse A 12

Resources.
Gioia, Ted. 2011. The History of Jazz. New York. Oxford University Press.
Chapter 7. The Fragmentation of Jazz Styles
Morton, Brian & Cook, Richard. 2011. Penguin Jazz Guide, the History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. New York, NY. Penguin Books.
Duke Ellington. Far East Suite
Johnny Hodges. Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges
Paul Gonsalves. Getting’ Together
Benny Carter. Further Definitions
Ratliff, Ben. 2002. The New York Times Essential Library of Jazz. New York. Times Books.
Chapter 62. Duke Ellington, Money Jungle (1962)
Chapter 75. Duke Ellington, Far East Suite (1966)

Annotated playlists and streaming links for all the Jazz at 100 broadcasts: Jazz at 100

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