Echoes of Ellington: The Band Is Gone, The Recordings Live On

The two CDs of The Orchestra.

The debut CD of the orchestra was recorded in one day at Abbey Road Studios in London. On 5 September 1994, eighteen musicians assembled in the room made famous by The Beatles to lay down the sixteen tracks that make up the CD. The vocalist for the session was Claire Flynn, who later left the group and emigrated, but the line-up features many of the musicians that stayed with Echoes throughout its career.

Familiar names include the trumpets of Mike Lovatt, Gavin Mallet and Bruce Adams, the trombones if Bob Hunt and Mike Innes, and the guitar of Pete Walton. The saxophones were all Echoes stalwarts: Peter Ripper and Colin Skinner on altos, Iain Dixon, Ray Gelato and Pete Long on tenors, and Jay Craig on baritone. Don Innes was at the pianoforte, with Dave Olney on bass and Mike Smith on drums.

The selections represent some of the Duke's best known numbers, together with some less familiar tracks. Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life is included, which Pete Long explains in the highly informative booklet was never recorded in big band form by Ellington. The tour de force is the final track, Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue, which lasted until the next CD came out two years later.

These recordings represent the first recording venture of Echoes of Ellington. The results are both extremely listenable and highly danceable. Clearly there can only be a limited amount of stock left; grab one while you can.

Main Stem
Track 1Main Stem
Track 2Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Track 3Caravan
Track 4Prelude To A Kiss
Track 5Harlem Air Shaft
Track 6East St Louis Toodle-oo
Track 7It Don't Mean A Thing
Track 8Take The 'A' Train
Track 9Lush Life
Track 10Jam With Sam
Track 11The Mooche
Track 12Primpin' At The Prom
Track 13Satin Doll
Track 14Junior Hop
Track 15Diminuendo & Crescendo In Blue

The second CD of Echoes of Ellington was a live recording of their concerts at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London from April 22 to April 27 1996. The result was not released until the following year. 

The sound here is what we came to expect and love from Echoes of Ellington. Opening with the highly danceable arrangement of Take The A Train, the smooth-as-silk vocals of Patti Revell caress your ears and take them on a tour of the lyric and some scat, supported by the resot of the orchestra on backing shouting.

The CD does contain some of the tracks on Main Stem, but with different arrangements. This time around you can enjoy a fine Ray Gelato vocal on It Don't Mean A Thing. There's also a return for Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue. But, as Pete Long explains in the once-again highly-informative booklet, he couldn't leave out the tremendous sax solo of Iain Dixon, not least because it was delivered in the small hours of the morning.

For the rest, you can enjoy the sultry blues of Concerto For Cootie and I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues. You can really swing out to Kinda Dukish/Rockin' In Rhythm and C Jam Blues, the best use anyone has ever made of a two-note motif. Add to that the likes of Mood Indigo, Smada, I'm Beginning To See The Light and Jubilee Stomp, and there's more than enough new material to keep anyone happy. There's also a rare non-Ellington tune: Irving Berlin's Blue Skies.

In the May 1997 edition of Swing Time, I wrote:

"Rush out and buy a copy of Echoes of Ellington's "Rockin' In Ronnies" CD. It's worth it for the liner notes alone. The music really swings and Mrs. Revell's vocal on "Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues" is enough to make any red-blooded male get down on all fours in front of the speakers and bark like a mad dog. Or is it just me?"

It's as true now as it was then.

Rockin' In Ronnies
Track 1Take The 'A' Train
Track 2Concerto For Cootie
Track 3Main Stem
Track 4I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
Track 5Kinda Dukish/Rockin' In Rhythm
Track 6It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Track 7C Jam Blues
Track 8Mood Indigo
Track 9Smada
Track 10I'm Beginning To See The Light
Track 11Jubilee Stomp
Track 12Blue Skies
Track 13Diminuendo & Crescendo In Blue

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