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Live In Swing City - Swingin’ with Duke

Powerfully rendered and enthusiastically received by the crowd at New York’s Supper Club, this collection of Duke Ellington favorites is worthwhile for its buoyant spirit and execution. It’s a session where, like most of Ellington’s, multiple soloists get to sound off in a three-minute span, creating an atmosphere where economy in individual expression is a must. So on “C Jam Blues,” long associated with Ellington’s favorite alto saxophonist, Johnny Hodges, Wynton Marsalis yields the floor to fellow trumpeter Marcus Printup, who in turn yields to tenor saxophonist Walter Blanding, and so on. Further, the band avoids trying to echo Hodges’s alto to make the tune more Ellingtonian. The group is content to shuffle through it in its own manner, sounding frequently more like a bluesy Basie band than an Ellington outfit. No matter, though, since this is ultimately a fun recording, packed with solid band workouts and even handsomely presenting vocalists Milt Grayson on “Multi Colored Blue” and Dianne Reeves on “Bli Blip.” But it’s not ultimately the swinging tunes, best of which here are “Cottontail” and “Harlem Air Shaft,” that make this a genuinely important look at Ellington. It’s the band’s reflective take on Billy Strayhorn’s “Chinoiserie,” replete with Blanding’s smart solo. Or maybe it is “Cottontail,” with Illinois Jacquet’s wingspread solo with its mix of gutbucket pocks and slurry wisps.

Live In Swing City - Swingin’ with Duke

Album Info

Ensemble Wynton Marsalis with JLCO
Release Date March 30th, 1999
Formats CD, Digital Download
Genre Jazz at Lincoln Center Recordings


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Track Listing

Track Length Preview
Happy Go Lucky Local – Live 6:58 Play
Main Stem – Live 3:56 Play
C Jam Blues – Live 3:33 Play
Multi Colored Blue – Live 6:12 Play
Chinoiserie – Live 5:04 Play
Black And Tan Fantasy – Live 4:35 Play
Cottontail – Live 5:42 Play
Mood Indigo – Live 3:27 Play
Bli Blip – Live 3:16 Play
Harlem Air Shaft – Live 3:05 Play
Portrait Of Louis Armstrong – Live 3:29 Play

Liner Notes

“The spot was on 47th Street, just off Times Square around the corner from the old club Kentucky, The scene was a shoot for a Great Performance Documentary on the life and music of Duke Ellington. On the set were musicians, dancers, engineers and a few invited guests. Ready, on 5,4,3 within moments the heat and energy generated by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra had dancers shaking and the rest of the crowd screaming and hollering. The smell of a good, hot summer dance filled the air and the cameramen, engineers, musicians, friends and invited guests heard Illinois Jacquet reminisce about the old days and how filling a room with that much love was a regular occurrence among the many couples swinging, flirtation was brewing.

Taking music recorded at a TV session and preparing it for commercial release was not something we ever had in mind when we began this project, however, the exceptional feeling generated by these sessions in late August of 1998 warranted the release of the music. After nearly five months of touring, the Lincoln Center Jazz orchestra was relaxed and ready to swing. Combined with the talented pianist Cyrus Chestnut, Guest singers Dianne Reeves and Milt Grayson, and tenor saxophone great, Illinois Jacquet, those dancers couldn’t help but swing.”

Rob Gibson, Executive Producer & Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center, February 1999


Lincoln Center Jazz Orchesra:
Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson: Alto Saxophone, Walter Blanding, Jr.: Tenor Saxophone, Victor Goines: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone, Ted Nash: Alto Saxophone, Joe Temperley: Baritone Saxophone, Seneca Black: Trumpet, Ryan Kisor: Trumpet, Wynton Marsalis: Trumpet, Marcus Printup: Trumpet, Wayne Goodman: Trombone, Wycliffe Gordon: Trombone, Ronald Westray; Trombone, Cyrus Chestnut: Piano, Rodney Whitaker: Bass, Herlin Riley: Drums.

Special Guests: Illinois Jacquet; Tenor Saxophone (“Cottontail”), Dianne Reeves: Vocals (“BliBlip”), Milt Grayson: Vocals (“Multi Colored Blue”).