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Ellington ended the extensive European tour in January-February 1963 with taking on his role as artistic director of Reprise Records. He did so by supervising five recording sessions in Paris. One of them featured Svend Asmussen together with Stephan Grappeli and Ray Nance.
The result was only issued in 1976 by Atlantic Records. There are also some CD issues and the best in terms of sound is the one issued by Mosaic Records.
Tapes with the complete recording session, which took place February 22, 1963, has long circulated between collectors but now La Maison de Duke has taken the step to issue a CD with almost all the takes of the session.
Thanks to this, one can both enjoy the music on the original LP and get an insight into the creative process between an extraordinary group of musicians and how Ellington guided them to get the result he wanted. Asmussen is of course at the center but there is also good playing by in particular Stephan Grappelli.
The CD comes with a booklet written by Claude Carrière, which is thorough and enlightening in his usual detailed style. Unfortunately it is only in French.
The CD is a must for friends of Ellington, Svend Asmussen and violin jazz. However, it is only available to members of La Maison de Duke but a membership is equal to the price of a quality CD.
The day started with typical French lunch. Around the table of the musicians, there was a heated discussion on interpreting Ellington.
In the afternoon Claude Carrière gave a workshop where he demonstrated quite a number of Ellington songs. His CD box of Ellington songs is highly recommended
The evening started with an Ellington concert by the Wenzo Trio enlarged with Laurent Mignard and Franck Pilandon.
And it ended with dancing to Ellington music long into the night.
Duke Ellington is certainly alive in France!