Duke Ellington’s America

book cover

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra “Blues in Orbit” (1960)

(Quotes are from Duke Ellington’s America)

This is here for sentimental reasons. It’s the title track to the 1960 album that first turned me on to Ellington, recorded soon after the Sputnik satellite launch. It’s “one of the most criminally neglected albums in the Ellington catalog, a collection of relaxed miniatures recorded between midnight and dawn, with melodies and rhythms that burrow into the subconscious. Most of the tracks are grounded in the blues, but they are Ellingtonian and Strayhorn-esque blues, with appealing quirks that hint at an urbanity and mystery not usually present in blues or big band recordings. The title track featured Ellington contributing trebly stabs of blues piano meant to resemble a satellite’s signal against beautifully layered soft horn riffs.” Also on YouTube from the same LP: “Blues in Blueprint”, “Brown Penny”, “Smada”, “The Swinger’s Jump” and “Villes Ville is The Place, Man.”