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Bebop Spoken There

John McDonough (reviewing Bright Red Dog’s In Vivo): “When you improvise on nothing, that’s what you get”. - DownBeat August 2021

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Postage

13,508 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 926 of them this year alone and, so far, 90 this month (July 27).

Monday, July 12, 2021

Album review: The Mark Masters Ensemble - Masters & Baron Meet Blanton & Webster

It takes a brave man to offer fresh interpretations of Ellington's music and to do it without falling short. Fortunately, Masters manages to pull it off with neither insult nor injury to the original recordings which were by the 1940-42 band. That band was often referred to as the Blanton-Webster Band with reference to key players Jimmy Blanton, who revolutionised bass playing, and Ben Webster, one of the all-time greats of the tenor saxophone.

Kirsten Edkins and Jerry Pinter share Webster's solos with Bruce Lett occupying the Blanton berth. However, there's more - much more.

One of the key members of that particular Ellington band (justifiably known as Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra) was trombonist Joe Nanton or "Tricky Sam" who, arguably, could be said to have invented the growl/plunger style of trombone playing. Here, Art Baron, who himself played in the very last Ellington band, takes on the role as if to the manor born.

On trumpet, Tim Hagans is more Clark Terry than Ray Nance and drummer Ferber swings like Sam Woodyard rather than the more exotic Sonny Greer.

Whilst most of the pieces are identifiable to those familiar with the originals a notable exception is Duke's Place, better known as C Jam Blues where it is only as the band hits the out chorus that we get a clue as to the tune. This in no way diminishes it as, apart from solos by Schroeder, Woodley and Lett there's some exciting trumpet exchanges between Stout and Hagans.

Whether you're a devout Ellingtonian or just a mere fan it's an album well worth checking out. Lance.

Available now on Capri Records (74166). Sample.

All Too Soon; Duke's Place; I Got it Bad; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; What am I Here For?; Jack the Bear; Perdido; Passion flower; Take the 'A' Train; Ko-Ko; Introduction to In a Mellotone; In a Mellotone.

Scott Englebright, Les Lovitt, Ron Stout, Tim Hagans (trumpet); Les Benedict, Dave Woodley, Art Baron (trombone); Kirsten Edkins, Jerry Pinter (tenor/soprano saxes); Danny House (alto sax/clarinet); Adam Schroeder (baritone sax); Bruce Lett (bass); Mark Ferber (drums); Mark Masters (arranger).

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