The Cosmic Scene: Duke Ellington’s Spacemen
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Limited Edition 180g Pure Virgin Vinyl
After his enormous success at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, Duke Ellington obtained a free ticket to produce whatever project he wanted to, and in 1958 he decided to temporarily reduce his touring orchestra to a nonet which he called “the Spacemen”. With this unit, he made a single studio album, The Cosmic Scene …
After his enormous success at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, Duke Ellington obtained a free ticket to produce whatever project he wanted to, and in 1958 he decided to temporarily reduce his touring orchestra to a nonet which he called “the Spacemen”. With this unit, he made a single studio album, The Cosmic Scene.
“Perhaps inspired by the first orbiting satellites,” wrote Michael G. Nastos in All Music Guide, “Ellington is not taking cues from George Russell or Sun Ra, whose extra-terrestrial inspirations led them to even more progressive paths.
This large ensemble is playing mostly standards, but the arrangements and solos carve an integrated yet elasticized concept that allows for a more expanded role for the ensemble’s trombonists Quentin ‘Butter’ Jackson, John Sanders, and Britt Woodman, and select soloists. One in the solo spotlight is Clark Terry on flugelhorn exclusively, putting his fabled trumpet aside. The classic material presented includes clarinettist Jimmy Hamilton’s features ‘Avalon’ and ‘Early Autumn’, the slinky stripper pole blues version of ‘St. Louis Blues’ with Ellington’s piano taking the lead, and ‘Body & Soul’, with tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves completely extrapolating and re-harmonizing the song.
There’s a modified ‘Perdido’, an animated and perky ‘Midnight Sun’ that deviates from any other slow and lugubrious version of the ballad, and ‘Jones’. There are two originals: the blues bass of Jimmy Woode and the ‘bones with plentiful piano from Duke infusing ‘Bass-Ment’, and one of the more delightful of all of Ellington’s book, the poppin’ and boppin’ ‘Spacemen’, a bright happy horn chart led by Terry that is one of the more distinctive Ellington numbers of this time period.” Two alternate takes that complete the sessions have been added as a bonus.
- Body And Soul
- Early Autumn
- Body And Soul [Alternate Take]
- St. Louis Blues
- Midnight Sun
- Take The “A” Train
- Jones [Alternate Take]