Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins – Impulse!/Analogue Productions/Universal stereo-only SACD CIPJ 26 SA, 39 min. [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:
(Ray Nance – cornet, violin; Lawrence Brown – trombone; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Harry Carney – bar. sax, bass clarinet; Coleman Hawkins – tenor sax; Duke Ellington – piano & composer; Aaron Bell – bass; Sam Woodyard – drums)
This 1962 session engineered by Rudy Van Gelder was described by the New York Times as “one of the great Ellington albums, one of the great Hawkins albums, and one of the great albums of the 1960s.” Bob Thiele was the producer, and there are four photos of the recording session in the note booklet, with an essay by Stanley Dance.
Hawkins recalled that around 20 years earlier Ellington had told him he wanted to make a record with him, and would write a number especially for him. Finally in 1962 it all happened, and as Dance says, good things are worth waiting for. Ellington’s portrait of Hawkins is of course the track “Self-Portrait of the Bean,” and Billy Strayhorn collaborated with Ellington on the tune. Johnny Hodges not only played on this one, but co-composed two of the tunes with Ellington. Some of the reissues have had a ninth track: the Ellington-DeLange Solitude, but it’s not on this one.
The eight tracks here are a kick, with great solos by all concerned. Nice to hear Ray Nance on violin once in a while, and the ensemble really jumps on the “The Jeep is Jumpin.” The clarity of the two-channel SACD clearly places each player with air around them – it’s a delight on speakers and a thrilling closeup experience on headphones.
TrackList: Limbo Jazz, Mood Indigo, Ray Charles’ Place Wanderlust, You Dirty Dog, Self-Portrait (of the Bean), The Jeep is Jumpin’, The Ricitic
— John Henry