As the year 1967 rolled in on Duke Ellington, he found himself overlooking a steep cliff. His writing and arranging partner Billy Strayhorn had taken ill, and would pass on by the end of May of that year, and he, with 16 piece big band in tow, had just embarked on a European tour. The great challenge of Strayhorn being out of action was the fact that now Ellington would once again be tasked with doing the bulk of his writing alone once again, a role he had not had to fully assume since 1937. Now, at the age of 68, he had to set out to compose and arrange a new "book" for touring. In addition to his usual extended pieces, he would generally craft solo numbers which were specially arranged to present his soloists in their best possible light before crowds around the world.
On this night in 1967 we hear Duke and his orchestra in rare form, presenting a few of such newly written compositions, featuring luminaries like Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Cat Anderson and more.
Performers on this Album
trumpets: Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Money Johnson, Herbie Jones, Mercer Ellington
trombones: Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, Chuck Connors
reeds: Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney
piano: Duke Ellington
bass: John Lamb
drums: Rufus Jones