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Duke Ellington: Uppsala 1971 (Storyville)

A review of the pianist's orchestra set in Sweden from November 1971

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Duke Ellington, Uppsala 1971
The cover of Uppsala 1971 by Duke Ellington

The Duke Ellington Orchestra of 1971 is well documented; it’s the one that recorded both The Afro Eurasian Eclipse (in February) and Togo Brava Suite (at a series of English concerts in late October). Other dribs and drabs of the orchestra’s autumn world tour have surfaced, but nothing in the way of a full concert. The recently discovered tape of Uppsala 1971 fills that gap with an entire Swedish set from November. It conclusively shows that this late-period version of the band still burned.

In particular, they do so on a revelatory “One More Time (for the People),” a.k.a. “One More Once.” Suitably swinging on Ellington’s 1961 summit with Count Basie, here it’s a rollicking—even frugging—soul number, with a wild lead vocal from Nell Brookshire and backing from Tony Watkins. It is, to say the least, an unexpected (and exciting) turn for the then-72-year-old Ellington.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.