Duke Ellington (featuring Harry Carney): Frustration
Duke Ellington (piano)
Duke Ellington Presents (Bethlehem 5019)
Clark Terry, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson (trumpets), Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Brit Woodman (trombones), Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves (reeds), Jimmy Woode (bass); Sam Woodyard (drums).
Composed by Duke Ellington.
Recorded: February 1956
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Harry Carney played the role of personal driver, trusted confidant and all-around best friend to the Duke throughout the majority of his career. Their strong extra-musical relationship extended to the bandstand, where Ellington's baritone-centric reed arranging propelled Carney's rich, round tone into the forefront of the world's finest big band. After Ellington/Carney, it was possible, and more importantly, desirable, to view the baritone sax as a legitimate frontline instrument perfectly appropriate to carry the lead. And just as Ellington himself did for the entire big band genre, Carney provided a beacon to successive generations of baritone saxophonists.
While Ellington classics such as "Sophisticated Lady" and "In a Mellotone" feature Carney's baritone in a leading role, "Frustration" is probably the strongest start-to-finish feature Ellington/Strayhorn wrote with Carney in mind. ("Sono" and "Agra" are two other fine examples.) Even though this is a rather late example, the smooth, just-right tone heard here had been Carney's strongest asset since the 1930s. Note how he chooses to suppress the instrument's power during the middle of his phrases in order to provide an unparalleled low-end punch to conclude (or sometimes, to begin) a powerful line.
Reviewer: Eric Novod