Duke Ellington's Spacemen: The Cosmic Scene (LP)

Sale price$19.50



Format: LP
Label: Pan Am Records
Year: 2018

Media Condition: New
Sleeve/Cover Condition: New


A1 Avalon
A2 Body And Soul
A3 Bass-ment
A4 Early Autumn
A5 Jones
A6 Body And Soul (Alternate Take)

B1 Perdido
B2 St. Louis Blues
B3 Spacemen
B4 Midnight Sun
B5 Take The "A" Train
B6 Jones (Alternate Take)


Bass – Jimmy Wood
Clarinet – Jimmy Hamilton
Drums – Sam Woodyard
Piano – Duke Ellington
Tenor Saxophone – Paul Gonsalves
Trombone – Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Clark Terry

Originally released in 1958.

Still riding the success of his triumphant concert at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, Duke Ellington in 1958 decided to reduce his touring orchestra to a nonet dubbed “the Spacemen,” and recorded this lone project with them for the Columbia label.

Perhaps inspired by the first orbiting satellites, Ellington is not taking cues from George Russell or Sun Ra, whose extraterrestrial inspirations led them to even more progressive paths. This large ensemble is playing mostly standards, but the arrangements and solos carve an integrated yet elasticized concept that allows for a more expanded role for the ensemble’s trombonists Quentin “Butter” Jackson, John Sanders, and Britt Woodman, and select soloists.

One in the solo spotlight is Clark Terry on flugelhorn exclusively, putting his fabled trumpet aside. The classic material presented includes clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton’s features “Avalon” and “Early Autumn,” the slinky stripper pole blues version of “St. Louis Blues” with Ellington’s piano taking the lead, and a version of “Body & Soul,” with tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves completely extrapolating and re-harmonizing the tune. There’s a modified “Perdido,” an animated and perky “Midnight Sun” that deviates from any other slow and lugubrious version of the ballad, and “Jones” a real good swinger.

There are two originals; the blues bass of Jimmy Woode and the ‘bones with plentiful piano from Duke infusing “Bass-Ment,” and one of the more delightful of all of Ellington’s book, the poppin’ and boppin’ “Spacemen,” a bright happy horn chart led by Terry that is one of the more distinctive Ellington numbers of this time period.

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