18 Songs, 1 Hour 4 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Duke Ellington wrote a number of suites in the latter part of his career: Far East Suite (1966), Latin American Suite (1968), and Togo Brava Suite (1971) are fine examples of his work in this vein. The instrumental form draws from dance music, something the great swing bandleader was no stranger to. It also gave him a chance to stretch out and write longer pieces — often collaborating with arranger Billy Strayhorn — featuring his wonderfully rich section writing and inventive rhythms. On Three Suites, Ellington brings his distinctive touch to works by a Russian and a Norwegian composer, and the third piece is inspired by an American novelist. His version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite gracefully translates the late 19th century warhorse into his own distinctive language, and of course, this being the Ellington band, stellar solos abound. He also works wonders with material drawn from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites. The famous Grieg melody is instantly recognizable in “Morning Mood,” and so is Ellington’s lush sound. The title of Suite Thursday, an Ellington/Strayhorn original, refers to Sweet Thursday, the John Steinbeck novel that was a sequel to Cannery Row. Any Ellington fan should delight in the piece’s bluesy sophistication, assorted grooves, and Ray Nance’s bowed and plucked violin solo on “Lay-By.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Duke Ellington wrote a number of suites in the latter part of his career: Far East Suite (1966), Latin American Suite (1968), and Togo Brava Suite (1971) are fine examples of his work in this vein. The instrumental form draws from dance music, something the great swing bandleader was no stranger to. It also gave him a chance to stretch out and write longer pieces — often collaborating with arranger Billy Strayhorn — featuring his wonderfully rich section writing and inventive rhythms. On Three Suites, Ellington brings his distinctive touch to works by a Russian and a Norwegian composer, and the third piece is inspired by an American novelist. His version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite gracefully translates the late 19th century warhorse into his own distinctive language, and of course, this being the Ellington band, stellar solos abound. He also works wonders with material drawn from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites. The famous Grieg melody is instantly recognizable in “Morning Mood,” and so is Ellington’s lush sound. The title of Suite Thursday, an Ellington/Strayhorn original, refers to Sweet Thursday, the John Steinbeck novel that was a sequel to Cannery Row. Any Ellington fan should delight in the piece’s bluesy sophistication, assorted grooves, and Ray Nance’s bowed and plucked violin solo on “Lay-By.”

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