Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: Togo Brava Suite

To clarify one immediate misconception, Duke Ellington’s “Togo Brava Suite” (seven tracks) runs 29:05; the remaining 10 tracks on the CD Togo Brava Suite are unrelated treasures from Ellington’s legendary stockpile. The tiny Republic of Togo, in western Africa, showed more common sense in putting Duke’s likeness on a postage stamp in 1968, while our own country consistently bypassed him for a much-deserved Pulitzer.

Duke’s thank you to Togo, written three years after the stamp was issued, is as gracious as it is historically fascinating, and it’s filled with many moments-indeed whole tracks-that bear few ethnomusicological ties to Togo. But that is of little consequence. With soloists as eloquent as Harry Carney, Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Rufus Jones, Harold Ashby, Norris Turney and Joe Benjamin, who cares about authenticity? This is, however, authentic Duke; that should give Ellington fans all the incentive they need to hear this first recording of the complete suite.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published