It's hard to find an album, from the past or even from today, that is just, well, purely enjoyable
. I’m talking about an album that can just be popped into the CD player (or selected on the computer or mp3 player, whatever your preference may be) and just listened to, all the while enjoying the mood presented. Be it with a group of close friends or by oneself, the album is the perfect compliment to the feeling of simple delight, and might even be the reason for the feeling in the first place.
World-renowned jazz pianist and composer Duke Ellington's collaboration with saxophonist John Coltrane, aptly titled Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
is such an album. Every second drips with joy, a truly excellent display of the talents and musicality of two of jazz music's best known players. The album has a duality in that, while it can be enjoyed up front and when listened to for the express purpose of listening to it, it can also be played in the background and liven up and relax the mood of and entire room, even through a casual listen.
There is a terrific amalgam to be heard on this album of quicker, bop-inducing tracks and slower, relaxing affairs. For example the opening piece, In A Sentimental Mood
has almost instantly become one of my favorite songs of all time. I, in all honest objectivity, cannot find a single thing wrong with this song. The mellow saxophone croons upon a bed of tinkling piano, sporadic drums a splashing bombast. It slows down a bit to allow Coltrane to work his magic upon the listener. Duke keeps a steady rhythm throughout the song, until it gets its due with a solo in the middle of the song that is truly a musical highlight if there ever was one. Coltrane pips in as the pace quickens a bit, and a reprise of the beginning of the song occurs, with a bit more frills of the saxophone for great measure. The song ends with splish-splash cymbals and that wonderful, wonderful piano.
In a stark contrast, Stevie
is quite the toe-tapping number. Duke's fingers travel the keyboard, creating some truly ecstatic moments of music. The drums only help to enliven the feeling, and the barely-coherent bass just skips right along with the party. Coltrane tells a story without words, his saxophone flowing seamlessly from high to low and places in-between that I've never imagined. The voices of the musicians can be heard for brief moments, and it's clear that they know that they are creating something amazing here. This track can be described in only one, more-than-appropriate word: jazzy.
While these two songs are the best, in regards to contrast of songs on Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
, the remainder of the album is certainly nothing to scoff at. Big Nick
jives right along, the driving force of the track the squawking sax, for this track highlights the talents of Mr. Coltrane unlike any other on the album. My Little Brown Book
projects the sounds and evokes the sights of a cool jazz club, New Orleans circa 1950s, the piano a subtle force behind the domineering saxophone solo. The song is nothing short of cool, the old-time cool, the best cool.
When you name a song The Feeling of Jazz
, you're either extremely arrogant or you'd best deliver the goods. Fortunately, the album's closer delivers in a big way. A steady drumbeat allows Coltrane and Ellington to just play
. Throughout the song, it is uncertain if this group of musicians can keep something this sweet, this exquisite up for five minutes. Ellington and company don't back down, with keyboard grooves and saxophone monologues to sooth the listener, and ensuring that this song and album will be played again, and again, and again.
However, not all is perfect. For one, where's the bass" A prominent instrument within jazz music, it's expected that the bass would be at the forefront, such as every other instrument is. This is not the case, if but for a few moments, the bass is completely overshadowed by the other members of the band, which hurts the entire ensemble in the end. As well, while the album is highly enjoyable and inspirational, it really cannot be anything more than this for the simple reason that it leaves a ton to be desired. I, for one, wish that there were more than seven tracks on the album, for I could listen to this for hours on end.
Musicianship unmatched, mood never contended, cool factor never questioned, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
is an amazing album any way you cut it. It can truly be played for hours on end and never loose its edge, its feeling of enjoyment. It is an album that can at one moment excite the listener with driving, jazzy tracks that never let up, and then next mellow the listener out with soft and gentle endeavors. Sure, it has its flaws, but why let it ruin the good time that is created with every listen of this album"
The mood of this album is simply unmatched
There is a great distribution of different types of songs
The bass is nearly a nonentity
The album could go on forever, but sadly doesn't