Duke Ellington & Orchestra Live in Paris

Salle Pleyel 1958

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Duke Ellington — Director musical, pianista

Billy Strayhorn — Pianista

Jimmy Woode — Contrabajista

Sam Woodyard — Baterista

Cat Anderson — Trompetista

Ray Nance — Cantante, trompetista

John Sanders — Trombonista

Jimmy Hamilton — Clarinetista

Clark Terry — Trompetista

Paul Gonsalves — Saxofonista

Ozzie Bailey — Cantante

Nelson Williams — Trompetista

Shorty Baker — Trompetista

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At his peak, Duke Ellington was a musical God, a debonair genius who could squeeze just the right amount of emotion out of all his notes and convert the complex and intricate into something accessible and adored by almost all listeners. He was also one of the first African-American superstars of the Twentieth Century and carried himself with grace and charm, a role model at a time when society tried its best to reduce and control the achievements of black musicians. 

Yet after two decades on the top, the early 50s saw something of a slump in Ellington's career. Swing was old news and the seedlings of rock 'n' roll were starting to outgrow the pre-war sounds. On top of that he lost a large number of musicians to other groups, though the inimitable Clark Terry joined Ellington in this period. It was his 1956 Newport Jazz Festival performance that revived hype around Ellington as a bandleader – he played a legendary set, leading his orchestra way beyond curfew and generating headlines far and wide.

This concert, filmed in Paris in 1958, was part of a European tour built on the back of Ellington's legendary status, as well as the new buzz around his music. The Duke was well known to Paris crowds and he always had a special love affair with the city (France was one of the first places to treat him as a celebrity, regardless of race). He delivered some of his most-loved compositions with energy and poise, like "Caravan," and "Take the A Train," with remarkable performances from Clark Terry as a soloist.

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Saturday, February 24, 2024