Duke Ellington – Such Sweet Thunder (Full Album)

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Such Sweet Thunder is a Duke Ellington album, released in 1957. The record is a twelve part suite based on the work of William Shakespeare.

AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder:
The 1999 reissue of this album marks a total reconstruction and rethinking of the original LP, and such a complete break from the original album that its story could fill a book. Such Sweet Thunder was originally announced as a stereo and mono release, but only showed up in mono thanks to the technical problems inherent in early stereo in creating a concert-like ambience in which the performance seemed continuous. The reissue presents the original album as it was intended, using alternate takes from the original sessions, plus the stereo masters of the takes used on the original album, all rounded out with a mono outtake or two. The music itself counts among Ellington’s most well-realized “concept projects,” all inspired by Shakespeare’s work and filled with memorable melodies and ample opportunities for solos by Cat Anderson, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, and Quentin Jackson. The Ellington-Strayhorn compositions treat their soloists like actors doing scenes and, in effect, playing parts, even quoting lines after a fashion — Clark Terry “plays” Puck in “Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down),” and Johnny Hodges turns in one of the most sensuous performances of his career for “Half the Fun,” from Antony and Cleopatra. These moments more than justify the cost of the CD, and the bonus tracks, many of which are different takes and others are simply material that came from the same sessions, more than double the length of the original LP. The extended notes by Phil Schaap deserve some kind of award for detail and clarity (http://www.allmusic.com/album/such-sweet-thunder-mw0000237420).

Track listing:
“Such Sweet Thunder” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:22
“Sonnet for Caesar” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:00
“Sonnet to Hank Cinq” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 1:24
“Lady Mac” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:41
“Sonnet in Search of a Moor” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 2:22
“The Telecasters” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:05
“Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down)” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:09
“Sonnet for Sister Kate” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 2:24
“The Star-Crossed Lovers” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 4:00
“Madness in Great Ones” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 3:26
“Half the Fun” (Also known as “Lately”) (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 4:19
“Circle of Fourths” (Ellington, Strayhorn) – 1:45

Jimmy Hamilton – Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Johnny Hodges – Alto Saxophone
Russell Procope – Clarinet, Alto Saxophone
Paul Gonsalves – Tenor Saxophone
Harry Carney – Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Cat Anderson – Trumpet
Clark Terry – Trumpet
Ray Nance – Trumpet
Willie Cook – Trumpet
Quentin Jackson – Trombone
John Sanders – Trombone
Britt Woodman – Trombone
Jimmy Woode – Bass
Duke Ellington – Piano
Sam Woodyard – Drums
Billy Strayhorn – Orchestration

Released: April 1957 or May 1957
Recorded: August 7, 1956 – May 3, 1957
Label: Columbia/Legacy
Producer: Irving Townsend – Original Recording