Duo Campion-Vachon, Piano 4 Hands – “Duke Ellington”

by | May 24, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Duo Campion-Vachon, Piano 4 Hands – “Duke Ellington” – Analekta AN 2 9820, 52:30 ****:

This new release is from the Quebec-based classical label Analekta, and
the piano duo of Guy Campion and Mario Vachon have recorded several
previous albums more in the classical vein for the label, including
works for piano 4 hands by Satie, Schubert and Gershwin. Duo member
Campion did all the arrangements, which were probably not a big stretch
since Ellington’s big band pieces were all piano-centered. After all,
Duke began his career as a pianist for hire.

A goodly span of the Ellington career is covered by these 17 tracks,
starting as early as 1927 with tunes created for The Cotton Club. The
later tunes go up to l968 with selections from some of the suites
Ellington wrote. Super-familiar tunes such as Satin Doll are fun to
hear in this form, but whether the pianists feared head-on collisions
on the single keyboard or just lacked the rhythmic chops of experienced
jazz pianists, things are just a bit stilted um-pah-pah when they could
be wham-bang-bop. (For contrast dig any of the two-piano treatments of
a standard like that one on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz program or
CDs.)

The final track is a repeat of Rent Party Blues – a l929 Ellington
original concerning those Harlem parties where an ivory-tickler would
haul his piano up to an apartment and charge those who attended the
party $1 each to cover the rent of the person living there. For this
“old style” variation, the piano tuner lowered the middle string of
those notes with three unison strings. This gave just enough tuned
out-of-tuneness to do the trick.

Tracks: Washington Wabble, Scattin’ at the Kit Kat, Blue Bubbles, New
World A-Coming, Daydream, Satin Doll, Rent Party Blues, Serenade to
Sweden, A Portrait of Bert Williams, In a Sentimental Mood, Freedom
(Word You Heard), I Never Felt This Way Before, Sophisticated Lady,
Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin,’ I Got It Bad, Rub-A-Tub-Lues, Rent Party
Blues old style.

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