"Cotton Tail" was introduced in 1940 by the celebrated Jimmy Blanton-Ben Webster edition of Ellington's orchestra, and featured Webster's famous tenor solo and a riveting unison interlude for the saxophone section. The combination of Rick Rozie's persistent bass line and Hanna's spiky keyboard clusters precede the ensemble's theme reading, with Newton and Blythe energetically splitting the bridge. Blythe's extravagant solo is pumped by Rozie's race-walking bass, playing the Blanton role. The altoist's wide vibrato accentuates the high-pitched squeals and shrieks that pepper the many riffs and subtexts that he succeeds in assembling into a coherent whole over the composition's "I Got Rhythm" changes. Hoggard and Hanna follow in a sparkling duet that gravitates from call-and-response mode to contrapuntal engagement, with modernistic Hanna here sounding very little like Duke. Newton's flute solo is one of his best on record in a straight-ahead, no-frills context, his marvelous tone and ample technique bringing to life his inventive, lucidly streaming lines. The theme's recurrence ignites brisk fills from Blythe and Newton, and then a concluding exultant flurry from the band.
August 13, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: cotton tail
Whereas Ellington's first litter cut straight to the chase, this sextet culled from Duke's mid-'50s band takes a moment for a short intro before stating the theme. After playing vibes on the bridge, Tyree Glenn shows his versatility by switching to cup-muted trombone for a mellifluous leadoff solo. Following a Woodyard drum break, tenorman Gonsalves assumes center stage, backed by Woodyard's trademark insistent rim shots on beats 2 and 4. Tyree Glenn, meanwhile, has returned to his Lionel Hampton-style vibes to comp behind the soloists. Clark Terry takes over next, coming on like a cat who's been drummed out of March King John Philip Sousa's band for playing too hip. Britt Woodman then provides a follow-up trombone solo using, unlike his predecessor Glenn, an open horn.
This "Cotton Tail" won't make anyone forget Duke's original, but it's still enjoyable, especially for Tyree Glenn's goof at the end. Whereas Duke's chart terminated in an unexpected low note played in unison by bass and baritone sax, this arrangement apparently meant to omit that last harrumph. Vibist Glenn, not quite on the same page as everybody else, nevertheless strikes one final, conspicuously solitary chord. In his solitude, the embarrassed Mr. Glenn offers a sheepish "Oh!" that reminds us what joys lurk in unrehearsed jazz.
May 18, 2008 · 0 commentsTags: cotton tail
November 20, 2007 · 3 commentsTags: cotton tail
November 06, 2007 · 0 commentsTags: cotton tail
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