Duke Ellington - Black, Brown & Beige (1958)

somehow i've managed to not hear this until very recently. this is Duke's magnum opus, a musical depiction of the "negro experience" strictly built for the concert hall. so yeah, you know there's no fucking around on this LP. actually Duke's orchestra only performed this 3 times in its entirety (and 1 was a preview performance), and while the initial 1943 Carnegie Hall show was live recorded i think this studio version is tops, simply because the incomparable Mahalia Jackson takes lead duties here, recorded about 15 years after the premiere. seriously, she fucking crushes this shit, like i can't even begin to describe how nasty her vocals are (track 4 is a highlight). it really makes you wonder what the great American mid-century jazz composers could've done for concert music if they hadn't been blackballed so hardcore. and, interestingly enough, it wasn't just black musicians, because Gershwin got the same treatment as well. if you want to learn about the nonsense that jazz composers had to deal with, i'd highly recommend Alex Ross's book "The Rest Is Noise," easily the most accessible listener's guide to 20th century music.


for real, imagine writing this shit and only get 2 pro performances... fucking stupid.

6 Responses so far.

  1. kurt says:

    Mahalia crushed the shit out of every song she ever got hold of. She had the most awesome voice I have ever heard, bar none. Duke and Mahalia, gonna be some listen. Thanks.

  2. ill! says:

    i beg to disagree, Mahalia was amazing but not the best... fucking top 5 for sure, tho. altho i spose at that point it's just personal preference

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