Duke Ellington: Black and Tan Fantasy (Victor)
Black and Tan Fantasy
The Best of the Duke Ellington Centennial Edition (RCA 63459)
Louis Metcalf (trumpet), Rudy Jackson (clarinet, tenor sax), Fred Guy (banjo), Wellman Braud (bass).
Composed by Duke Ellington & Bubber Miley.
Recorded: Camden, NJ, October 26, 1927
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
The second of Ellington's three 1927 "Black and Tan Fantasy" recordings disproves the adage that the Third Time's a Charm, since this is the one enshrined in Grammy's Hall of Fame. The performance is dated by Hardwick's smarmy alto sax, a taste best left unacquired. Plumber's helpers also abound, as Miley's growling trumpet trades rude noises with Nanton's whinnying trombone. And, yes, that's Chopin's "Funeral March" at the end. Yet whether intended as highbrow art music or floorshow underpinning, "Black and Tan Fantasy" still conjures phantoms after all these years. For, as one critic marveled at the time: "Beneath all its oddity and perverseness there was a twisted beauty that grew on me and could not be shaken off." Twisted beauty? That was undoubtedly Duke's idea.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz