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July 06, 2006

Duke or The Count?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Thanks to Terry Teachout for linking to this ultra-suave Duke Ellington Orchestra performance of "Satin Doll":

I confess that, where swing bands are concerned, I was always more of Count Basie fan myself: funkier, harder-hitting. Just see if you can sit still through this hoppin' small-combo version of "One O'Clock Jump." Does music get much steamier than this?:

As the wise man often said, though: Why not enjoy both?



posted by Michael at July 6, 2006


Of the two, for me it's the Count, hands-down.

But if the choice was between Basie and Benny Goodman, uh um ... hmm ... I'd lean slightly towards Goodman.

After all, he had Gene Krupa on drums. And Harry James on trumpet. Oh, also on trumpet was Ziggy Elman with his "Schoener Maedel" riffs! Plus all the sidemen whose names I can't conjure up on short notice.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on July 6, 2006 5:32 PM

Oh, please:

Posted by: onetwothree on July 6, 2006 6:17 PM

For me, Ellington is the pinnacle of orchestral jazz. Not as swinging as Basie, not as energetic as Goodman, but Christ, the complexity and nuance of not only the writing (which is where the Duke parts company from the others, he was a composer of the highest order) but also the playing. Ben Webster, Cootie Williams, and the all-time greatest lead trumpet, Cat Anderson.

But really, you can't go wrong when you're talking about Ellington, Basie, Goodman, and yeah, Monk!

Posted by: the patriarch on July 6, 2006 6:38 PM

If that Duke clip is "the apotheosis of urbanity", as Teachout says, then this is the apotheosis of... well, whatever is the opposite of urbanity. (Note his pronunciation of the last word of the song, "wounds", to rhyme with "town".)

Posted by: Brian on July 6, 2006 9:28 PM

The "One O'Clock Jump" truly bounces, but steamy? I don't know. Off the top of my head a couple of classics work for me -- Coleman Hawkins' "Body and Soul" and Roy Eldridge's "Rockin' Chair." Oh, and a wonderful screamy-sinuous Charlie Ventura tenor sax in "Dark Eyes" (with Krupa on drums) and even Bix's lazy "Singin' the Blues."

I think what I enjoy so much about these videos is watching the differences in personal style and musical attitude of the two men. So different, so great.

Posted by: Flutist on July 7, 2006 12:40 AM

The Goodman small groups were wonderful too - with, among others, Krupa, Charlie Christian, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton.

As for the Duke - in Stowmarket, in deepest rural England, last year I heard a busker play a quite wonderful "It don't mean a thing". For pleasure, it matched the busker Bach I heard in Berlin a couple of weeks later.

Posted by: dearieme on July 7, 2006 9:28 AM

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