Duke Ellington: Sophisticated Lady
Duke Ellington (piano)
Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington (Columbia/Legacy 61444)
Duke Ellington (piano), Arthur Whetsol (trumpet), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Freddy Jenkins (trumpet), Lawrence Brown (trombone), Juan Tizol (trombone), Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet, tenor sax), Otto Hardwick (clarinet, alto sax), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Harry Carney (baritone sax), Fred Guy (banjo), Wellman Braud (bass), Sonny Greer (drums).
Composed by Duke Ellington, Irving Mills & Mitchell Parish.
Recorded: New York, February 15, 1933
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
During his illustrious 50-year recording career, Duke Ellington led >1,000 sessions, each yielding multiple tracks. While collectively indispensable, they haven't aged equally well. Consider the Maestro's maiden "Sophisticated Lady," which rates high as a historic composition notwithstanding a virtual parade of what we now consider antiquated performance practices: trombonist Brown's unctuous vibrato, Bigard's porcelain clarinet, Hardwick's smarmy, trilling alto, glissading ensembles, all laid over a clunky four-beat guitar. Perhaps it's loutish to deride a lady arrayed in yesteryear's fashions. But even by the standards of the day, which Ellington himself had helped transform, his dame sophistiquée deserved a more haute couture.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz