Duke Ellington – Historically Speaking - The Duke - AudioSoundMusic
Duke Ellington – Historically Speaking - The Duke - AudioSoundMusic
Duke Ellington – Historically Speaking - The Duke - AudioSoundMusic
Duke Ellington – Historically Speaking - The Duke - AudioSoundMusic

Duke Ellington – Historically Speaking - The Duke

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Piano and conductor – Duke Ellington [click here to see more vinyl featuring Duke Ellington]

Alto Saxophone – Johnny Hodges

Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – Russell Procope

Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Harry Carney

Bass – Jimmy Woode

Drums – Sam Woodyard

Tenor Saxophone – Paul Gonsalves

Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet – Jimmy Hamilton

Trombone – Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson

Trumpet – Cat Anderson, Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Willie Cooke

Written by Duke Ellington (A1 to B1, B3-5), James "Bubber" Miley (A1-2), Johnny Hodges (A4), Billy Strayhorn (A4, B2, B6), Milt Gabler (A6)


1 LP, standard sleeve

Original analog Master tape: YES (digitally remastered)

Heavy Press : 180g

Record color : black

Speed : 33 RPM

Size : 12'’



Record Press : unspecified (Canada)

Label: Bethlelem

Original Label : Bethlelem

Recorded at Universal Recording Corp., Chicago on February 7 & 8, 1956

Engineered by Bill Putnam

Digitally remastered

Cover design by Burt Goldblatt

Liner notes by Joseph P. Muranyi and Jacklyn Levine

Originally released in 1956

Reissued in May 2023


Tracks :

Side A:

  1. East St. Louis Toodle-O
  2. Creole Love Call
  3. Stompy Jones
  4. The Jeep Is Jumpin'
  5. Jack the Bear
  6. In a Mellow Tone

Side B:

  1. Ko-Ko
  2. Midriff
  3. Stomp Look and Listen
  4. Unbooted Character
  5. Lonesome Lullaby
  6. Upper Manhattan Medical Group


          Reviews :

          "The mid-50s is generally considered a low point in the career of Duke Ellington and his band. Critics were critical of the fact that Duke was not creating much new material, but instead was re-recording many of his hits from the past. This probably wasn’t all Duke’s fault as record companies at this time were big on re-recording older popular music with the new high fidelity sound in hopes getting a few more consumer dollars out of some old favorites. In February 1956 Duke entered the Bethlehem label studios and cut enough material to make two records; “Duke Ellington Presents” and “Historically Speaking, the Duke”. Although these records may not have been the most forward thinking project Ellington could have come up with at the time, removed from that time period and taken on their own merit, these records hold up well as excellent recordings of Duke’s band in full swing.

          The supposed gimmick behind “Historically Speaking” was that Duke was going to re-record these numbers in modern high fidelity sound, but with the original arrangements intact. As the record unfolds though, there are definitely some changes and modernizations here and there and not all of the arrangements are faithful to the originals, which is probably no big deal either way. One of the most interesting aspects of this record is that the tunes are presented in chronological order which allows you to follow Duke’s musical development from sophisticated blues in the late 20s to increasingly abstract melodies and arrangements in the mid 50s.

          All of the tunes on here are excellent with “The Jeep is Jumpin” getting top honors for pure groove and a great funky melody. For uptempo numbers, the band rocks out on “Ko-Ko“ and “Stomp Look and Listen“. “Jack the Bear” has a clever arrangement that has the band hitting gradually building crescendos on the down beat. This effect will definitely grab your attention the first time you hear it. Closing numbers “Lonesome Lullaby” and “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” show Duke’s band at their most sophisticated with abstract scores that rival a concert-hall orchestra. To hear the band’s ensemble work at its best, listen to the rapid fire syncopated horn riffs that back the soloists on “Stomp Look and Listen”. All of the band is excellent on here, but possible top honors go to Johnny Hodges virtuoso alto sax and Jimmy Hamilton’s snake-charmer clarinet, which at times floats on top of the bands muscular punch.

          To recapitulate, this record may have seemed like a step backwards in the mid 50s when everyone was leaning towards the big changes right around the corner in the 60s, but removed from those times and taken on its own merits today, this is simply an excellent recording of one of jazz’s finest ensembles ever, maybe not at their peak, but still better than most.” Jazz Music Archives


          Ratings :

          AllMusic : 2 / 5 ; Discogs : 4.2 / 5 

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