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Blues In Orbit by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

In the late 1950s, the Space Race was in full flower, for it was writ large: "They who control the heavens, control the world," or words to that effect. With that, and the X-Files-like phenom of flying saucers ("the kind from up there?" - as it was put in Ed Wood's classic film Plan Nine From Outer Space), Space was the Place. And Duke Ellington, perhaps America's greatest performing composer, wanted a piece of the action. Blues In Orbit is a very fine Ellington orchestra album from 1958, reissued here with EIGHT bonus tracks. While only two tunes have any sort of "Space" ambiance, the title tune and "Villes Ville Is The Place, Man," both of which would've aroused envy in that cosmic hepcat Sun Ra, the rest of the album is primo 1950s Duke, full of elegant, cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow, blues-infused melodies, sensuous orchestral textures, and concise, deeply soulful soloing (listen, and be Purified, by the trumpet solo in "Blues In Blueprint"). There are (not revelatory, but darn nice) reprises of a couple of classic hits ("C Jam Blues," "In A Mellow Tone"), but the rest is all Ellington originals: sly, swinging, and swell all the way. Though not equaling the brilliance of 1960s masterpieces that lay ahead -- Far East Suite, And His Mother Called Him Bill -- BIO comes within shouting distance. Recommended to fans and newcomers alike.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
  • CD Title: Blues In Orbit
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Reissue Original Release: 1958
  • Record Label: Columbia / Legacy
  • Tracks: Three Js Blues; Smada; Blues In Orbit; Brown Penny; In A Mellow Tone; Sweet & Pungent; 13 others.'
  • Musicians: (the usual suspects)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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