Duke Ellington’s Spacemen – The Cosmic Scene – Columbia CL/ Pure Pleasure vinyl

by | Jul 19, 2013 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Duke Ellington’s Spacemen – The Cosmic Scene [TrackList follows] Columbia CL 1198/ Pure Pleasure 180g mono vinyl ****:

(Duke Ellington, piano; Clark Terry, trumpet, flugelhorn; Sam Woodyard, drums; Jimmy Wood, bass; Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet;  Paul Gonsalves, tenor saxophone; Britt Woodman, trombone; John Sanders, trombone; Quentin Jackson, trombone)

In 1958 Ellington decided it was advantageous to reduce his touring band to a nonet called “The Spacemen,” and on April 2 & 3, 1958 recorded this one mono LP with them at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in NYC.  He was still riding on the success of his concert at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, but felt compelled to try the spin-off routes which George Russell and Sun Ra had followed. But his nonet played mostly standards, with a more expanded role for select soloists. Clark Terry came up with the horn charts for some of the Ellington standards, in an entirely new swinging dress.  Of course almost anything Ellington does is terrific, deserving of his frequent phrase “beyond category,” and this small group session is no exception.

Paul Gonsalves complete reharmonizes “Body and Soul,” and Ellington’s piano takes the lead in a stripper-pole-blues version of the “St. Louis Blues.”  There are two originals: the first with plenty of Duke’s piano, and the second the delightful sort-of title tune, “The Spacemen.” The remastering of the original mono tapes was done by Ray Staff at Air Mastering in London and I don’t know what could be improved. Even if you have one of those mono-only high-end cartridges. Some feel that the value of combining the two channels together with a special cartridge is worth it. Remember (those of us who can’t afford it) that you can do it in your preamp or receiver if you want, but the results are not as good.


Side A:
1. Avalon
2. Body And Soul
3. Bass-ment4. Early Autumn

 Side B:
1. Perdido
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Spacemen
4. Midnight SunTake The “A” Train

—John Henry

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