It was meant to be tough workout day today with a tempo ride this morning and another 80 minute progression run still later on but Mother Nature has not been cooperating, like, at all. So while I’m figuring this all out I’m proceeding with this afternoon’s Day 109 core workout which is going to be more gentle stretching than anything else but I’ll still throw in the odd plank and crunch for good measure. Anyway, this afternoon’s listening pleasure on my mat is the ‘Blues In Orbit‘ album by Duke Ellington.
The Duke (the hip and swingin’ piano one, not the one with the funny walk and southern drawl) has more or less become a regular staple of these afternoon mat routines and today’s album is another find from The Bop Shop this past weekend.
Some might have you believe that this album lacks the intellectual cache of the suites and concept pieces that loomed large in Ellington’s recordings of this period, but it’s still an album worth tracking down, if only to hear the band run through a lighter side of its sound – indeed, it captures the essence of a late-night recording date that was as much a loose jam as a formal studio date, balancing the spontaneity of the former and the technical polish of the latter.
Ellington and company were just back from a European tour when the bulk of this album was recorded at one after-midnight session in New York on December 2nd, 1959 (for the Columbia label and released in 1960) – the arrangements had to be hastily written out when the copyist failed to appear for the gig. So on the one hand, the band was kicking back with these shorter pieces; on the other, the group was also improvising freely and intensely at various points.
The title track, recorded more than a year before most of the rest, is a slow blues that puts Ellington’s piano into a call-and-response setting with the horns, with Ellington getting in the last word. ‘Villes Ville Is the Place, Man‘ is a bracing, beat-driven jaunt, highlighted by solos featuring Ray Nance, Harry Carney, and Johnny Hodges on trumpet, baritone sax, and alto, respectively. ‘Three J’s Blues‘ shows off composer Jimmy Hamilton playing some earthy tenor sax in a swinging, exuberant blues setting. ‘Smada‘ features Billy Strayhorn on piano and Johnny Hodges on alto, in a stirring dance number, and ‘Pie Eye’s Blues‘ is a hot studio improvisation featuring Ray Nance and Jimmy Hamilton trading three solos each.
And if you don’t already know ‘C Jam Blues‘, well, shame on you!
I’m still not sure what this evening holds workout-wise. If this cats and dogs bullshit continues, then I’m not likely going to do anything at all. And in all honestly, even if it lets up I still might not do anything at all seeing as how I have a long 24-25k run early tomorrow morning and then another long 140k bike on Saturday (not to mention a long day at the bike mount line for the season opener of the SunRype Tri-Kids series) so, yeah, maybe a recovery day may not be a bad idea. In fact, perhaps this is Mother Nature’s way of saying “Hey, Dumbo. Take a break before you kill yourself!”
So if that happens, at least I can say I got some good therapeutic stretching and light core done so the whole day wasn’t a complete wash…literally.