Duke Ellington: Kinda Dukish / Rockin' In Rhythm
Kinda Dukish / Rockin' In Rhythm
Duke Ellington (piano)
Piano in the Background (Columbia/Legacy CK 87107)
Fats Ford, Willie Cook, Ed Mullens, Ray Nance (trumpets), Britt Woodman, Lawrence Brown (trombones), Russell Procope (alto sax, clarinet), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Jimmy Hamilton (tenor sax, clarinet), Paul Gonsalves (tenor sax), Aaron Bell (bass), Sam Woodyard (drums).
Composed by Duke Ellington.
Recorded: Hollywood, CA, June 20, 1960
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
The Duke was a sophisticated gentleman who sometimes enjoyed pretending he was "just folks." While introducing musicians on stage, for example, almost as an afterthought he would gesture to indicate someone named only "the piano player" … and that would be the not-so-retiring Mr. Ellington himself. Coy protestations aside, there was nothing of the bumpkin about his keyboard work, whether striding out per his early training, tinkling quietly and Impressionistically (as in "Reflections in D"), teaching the orchestral parts to some new composition (an almost daily occurrence), or directing his fine-tuned, free-spirited players straight from those same 88's.
Occasionally even the number of keys would increase, as in the 91 arrayed on the piano given a thorough workout on his misleadingly titled Piano in the Background. If ever the Duke was out front with his second instrument (the orchestra famously being his first), it was for this astonishing series of band sessions, when his piano introduces every track, resounds often throughout, and usually has the last word (à la Count Basie). Also a bit Basie-esque was the atomic energy released by this 1960 group, the Duke's men at their mature peak – Hodges, Brown, Nance, Gonsalves, Hamilton, Carney and so many more longtime stalwarts playing like randy stallions, storming through the extended charts, roaring like the great jazz cats they could be when inspired.
Every cut merits attention, but to choose just one, check the perfectly joined medley linking "Kinda Dukish" – his around-the-beat solo intro used to jumpstart part two – and the great "Rockin' in Rhythm," which instantly gets kicked up a notch and then just wails, topped by prime-timed shouts from Carney, Wood, and the screaming brass. Elvis? Schmelvis … the rockin' role was right here!
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher