Sunday, November 20, 2011

Music in The World To Come

In my restless, eager, and perhaps exorbitant pursuance of all things Ellingtonian, I at times lament that much of Duke's early music was recorded on less than stellar equipment. The exquisite arrangements and virtuoso soling are muted, distorted, or improperly balanced--and not in stereo. Yet, the beauty speaks through it all, nonetheless--so my search continues.

Given my eschatology, I believe that the best of human culture--from every tongue, and tribe, and time--will somehow be conserved in The World to Come. I was convinced of his years ago when I read Richard Mouw's short but compelling book, When the Kings Come Marching In (now out in a second edition by Eerdmans). The chapter addressing "true beauty" in Truth Decay underscores this as well, for what it is worth.

If this is so, then, one glorious day, in the presence of the Triune God and all the redeemed (and I hope Duke is among them), we shall in some manner listen to the aesthetic apex of Duke's nonpareil orchestra form every period, whether badly recorded, well recorded, or not recorded at all. Surely the ears of heaven cannot forget such beauty--or hoard it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Advice from Duke

In an interview, Duke Ellington said that my "first job is to listen." See James 1:19.

The Maestro

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Duke with the Boston Pops

Duke Ellington played several of his centerpieces with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood on a recording I found on vinyl today. Each piece is short, with little elaboration and no extended solo work. This is no blowing session. However, the live date has its own charm: these infectious and mellifluous melodies are augmented by a full orchestra, which adds lawyers of lustrous color. As Duke said, "It was a good day for the piano player," and, I must add, to all who listen with a Dukish soul.

This recording is also available on a three-disk CD called "Live and Rare."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Duke on CD

My Duke Ellington collection is swelling to a tremendous size. You see, compact disks are going out of style, and much of Ellington is out of print. Yet there are hundreds of used CDs available on line, often for excellent prices. I do not want to lose these gems of jazz history.