While yesterday’s speed run didn’t go over so well (click HERE), this mornings 3200m strength swim certainly did and (fingers crossed) I have faith that this evenings time trial effort will similarly go well. That just leaves this Day 108 of my core program to contend with this afternoon with more Jazz Boner procured from The Bop Shop this past weekend, the ‘Far East Suite‘ by Duke Ellington.
Ellington could have been forgiven if, by the time he was 67, he had gradually lost his creative desire not to mention his writing skills. But his genius never dimmed as witness the new music on this superb set, ultimately earning Ellington a Grammy Award in 1968 for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance – Large Group or Soloist with Large Group.
‘The Far East Suite‘ is in reality eight separate compositions of which the beautiful ‘Isfahan‘ (a memorable Johnny Hodges feature) became the best-known melody; Paul Gonsalves and Jimmy Hamilton are also among the main stars with the clarinetist being showcased throughout ‘Ad Lib on Nippon‘ (inspired by a 1964 tour of Japan). In fact, ‘Ad Lib on Nippon‘ is the only track concerned with a country in the “Far East”.
The rest of the music on the album was inspired by a world tour undertaken by Ellington and his orchestra in 1963, which included performances in Damascus, Amman, Ramall’ah, Kabul, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta, Columbo, Kandy, Dacca, Lahore, Karachi, Tehran, Isfahan, Abadan, Baghdad, and Beirut. The band arrived in Ankara but U.S. President John F Kennedy was assassinated the day before its concert, and the State Department cancelled the tour. Scheduled performances in Istanbul, Nicosia, Cairo, Alexandria, Athens and Thessaloniki and a week added to the tour for Yugoslavia were all cancelled.
So maybe the more appropriate name for this album might have been ‘The Near East Suite‘?
Anyway, regardless of what you decide to call it, it is the writing of Ellington and Strayhorn here in their late prime that makes this album one of his more memorable recordings and an awesome addition to my growing collection of Duke Ellington records.
Oh yeah, it’s also excellent listening for planking, push-ups, v-sits, squats and whatnot…but aren’t they all?