Duke Ellington’s recorded works are one of the marvels of modern music. His discography boggles the mind with a remarkable listing of titles from 1947 to breathtaking remastered collections of present day. "At The Alhambra," recorded in Paris in 1958, is a platform for Ellington’s star-studded big band-swing unit in full bloom. Clark Terry, Johnny Rodgers and Quentin Jackson are some of the jazz luminaries that were part of the Duke’s band. To make this CD a well-rounded experience, Paul De Barros (Seattle Times-Downbeat) contributes articulate and descriptive liner notes that give you a closer look at the man’s persona and the fine musicians that surrounded him.
The careful remastering process of Fantasy Jazz (Pablo) gave the forty four year old recording a complete overhaul. The hard work and attention to detail paid off. I was shocked after listening how good this actually sounded. One would never know that it was 1958 when this music was committed to tape.
What else can you say regarding Ellington’s legacy of recorded works? He was a key individual in the development of the jazz idiom and a true innovator and pioneer without equal. Listening to "Medley: Black and Tan Fantasy/Creole Love Call/The Mooche" provides an outstanding example of the big band sound that made his name synonymous with jazz. He was a wonderful composer and an expert at combining the fundamentals of classical with jazz music to form a blend that was both unique and imaginative.
As Duke said several times to his audience during this performance-"We love you madly," we love you too Mr. Ellington, and no doubt we will until the end of time.