Duke Ellington
The Far East Suite


5.0
classic

Review

by Meatplow USER (111 Reviews)
September 18th, 2009 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist


Duke Ellington's The Far East Suite is a collection of nine original compositions recorded by Duke and his orchestra in New York way back in 1966. Inspired by a world tour undertaken a few years earlier throughout several Middle Eastern countries, Duke took some cues and decided to make a western interpretation of the sights and sounds he took in. The result is a collection of arguably some of the best music he ever wrote, The Special Mix edition not a radical change from the original just an update with four alternative takes tacked on the end.

This album is simply magnificent. Tourist Point of View kicks things off, setting high standards for the musicianship of the following proceedings. The percussion work of Rufus Jones is very strong, as is John Lamb's bass anchoring it whilst the wind section weaves in and out masterfully. The sense of build-up with interweaving melody provides a high excitement, and by the time the screaming trumpets kick in just after the middle you have one of the most thrilling musical moments this reviewer can name. Bluebird of Delhi works at a much softer pace, with slow, curious sounds swelling in its beginning it's use of clarinet and trumpet is nothing short of melancholy at its finest.

Isfahan, a saxophone led piece, continues this trend of slow, moody music and comes off as incredibly sad which follows with later track Agra. Depk is a charming but rather silly, bombastic composition, a showcase for the Duke's prowess on the piano which is only bettered by Mount Harissa, a perfectly constructed effort with its chiming keys ringing out strong. Blue Pepper (Far East Of The Blues) is possibly the best song on the album, a potential future jazz standard if there ever was one with it's exotic instrumentation and playful, frolicking nature. Amad is another cool little jazz number that is excellent but not all that different to what came before, whilst Ad Lib on Nippon is the most piano centered piece on the album, exceeding 11 minutes in length and also closing it.

The Far East Suite is nothing short of breathtaking, Duke Ellington and the circle of musicians around him were responsible for writing some of the finest jazz ever recorded and this collection of work certainly meets any high standards he may have set for himself elsewhere. The few alternative takes aren't really worth mentioning, they aren't all that different to what made the final cut but if you are into that sort of thing they pad out the rather short release a little more which is good.



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user ratings (54)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Meatplow
September 18th 2009


5524 Comments


First jazz review ever.

Wait no I did a Return to Forever album.

Douglas
September 18th 2009


9283 Comments


I havent got this, im getting this

Meatplow
September 18th 2009


5524 Comments


Good man. I hope you enjoy it, I have fond memories of this album.

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 18th 2009


4462 Comments


It's a good review, and turns out I need this apparently! Just a few things:

a potential future jazz standard if there ever was one


nit-picking, but it would've already become a standard by now wouldn't you think so?

Also, for future reference, it's advisable to mention what style of jazz this is. I know that Ellington is in the Big-Band/swing vein of jazz, but I'd say most people on this site wouldn't. If you were reviewing for a more jazz inclined music site, then you wouldn't need to mention this. But here, I think it's important.

ohcleverhansyou
September 18th 2009


885 Comments


A fine album, and a fine review. While Ellington's mostly Big Band/swing, this is somehow different I feel. It's a strange album, as one might expect.

Meatplow
September 18th 2009


5524 Comments


nit-picking, but it would've already become a standard by now wouldn't you think so?


I don't actually know if it is, so I tried to speak from the perspective of when it first came out I guess.

Also, for future reference, it's advisable to mention what style of jazz this is. I know that Ellington is in the Big-Band/swing vein of jazz, but I'd say most people on this site wouldn't. If you were reviewing for a more jazz inclined music site, then you wouldn't need to mention this. But here, I think it's important.


As ohcleverhansyou described this is a little more different from your typical big band/swing, still jazz has never been my forte so i've often had difficulty trying to describe it. I'll take note of that, thanks.

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 18th 2009


4462 Comments


all the more reason to then. If it's a deviation from his normal work then it would an interesting thing to point out. But alas, not having jazz as your forte would hinder this. But the more you listen the more you know!

Meatplow
September 18th 2009


5524 Comments


yep, i'm learning

apple for teacher

[img]http://i37.tinypic.com/20aqx6o.jpg[/img]

thebhoy
Emeritus
September 18th 2009


4462 Comments


I can't believe I ate the whooooole thing. nom nom nom

Oathbreaker
February 21st 2011


1648 Comments


Any other stuff like this?No Karl Sanders please.

Chrisjon89
May 22nd 2014


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the unaccompanied piano part in the middle of Ad Lib On Nippon, so good. and Isfahan in general. i suck for not hearing this sooner.

SaneTBP
June 19th 2014


2070 Comments


Yeah this is magnificent, particularly the first half. The drumming is top notch too

PunchforPunch
June 19th 2014


6277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

might 4.5 this baby

Anthracks
September 27th 2015


6079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mm mm sweet nippon

Digging: Anima Damnata - Nefarious Seed...

Gwyn.
April 17th 2016


17076 Comments


This isn't as good as I had hoped

It doesn't really get going for me until the second half



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