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Duke Ellington: Uppsala 1971 (Storyville)

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

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.