DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
MSRP: $32.99 USD
180 GRAM LPIMP8311
Duke Ellington and his all-star ensemble lay back on this beautiful set of swinging, romantic ballads now available for the first time in pristine 180-gram vinyl. Ellington was often imitated, never equaled. There’s a clear “blue mood” at work in these sessions and Kevin Gray’s all-analog mastering brings out a nocturnal mood, while keeping things warm and mellow. A deep and wide soundstage, mellifluous lows and crystalline highs make Indigos a perfect accompaniment to your late night listening.
2. Where or When
3. Mood Indigo
4. Autumn Leaves
1. Prelude to a Kiss
2. Willow Weep for Me
4. Dancing In the Dark
PAUL RIGBY, RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE , OCTOBER, 2012
Ellington’s Indigos is a suite of uninspiring ballads but Impex, despite the layer of upper frequency hiss (???), presents a sumptuous upper mid-range that’s incisive and dynamic, taking you right into the centre of the performance, which brings the album to life (4 stars out of 5).
PHILLIP HOLMES, DAGOGO.COM, OCTOBER, 2012
I can’t hide my enthusiasm or admiration of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. Besides being one of the most important American musicians of the 20th century, I believe he actually invented coolness, or the modern concept of cool. I don’t mean cool, as in the cool school of jazz playing, but the general approach to the world. The precision of the ensemble was as good as any orchestra’s, and the level of musicianship was literally without peer, being made up of some of the finest jazz musicians to ever practice the craft. The result was a large jazz orchestra capable of playing faster and louder than anyone, while also being able to play softer and slower. Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and members of the band, wrote arrangements that made use of the peculiar sound of individual players, combining those sounds for unique textures, heard nowhere else in music. The Ellington Big Band could go from one extreme to the other with ease. Like an athlete supremely confident in his abilities, they did not have to prove they could play faster and louder, but occasionally showed their dominance in a flash of pure brilliance. They could jab and play defense, counter-punching for round after round, then lay you out with one punch. They were the Jack Johnson of jazz bands.
Indigos is an interesting album in that it is unusually laid back and cool. The album is a collection of ballads, played almost casually, or maybe cool, as in the cool school of jazz. There are fine solos, some of which are absolutely brilliant. Highlights include the too-little heard fiddle of Ray Nance and the richness of Harry Carney’s baritone sax, the latter a sonic marvel.
The Impex reissue is clearly superior to every version I’ve heard, perhaps being equal with the very rare and expensive original 2-track stereo tape, although the tapes have a good bit of hiss. The clarity of the mastering and the high quality vinyl allow the listener to hear the subtle shadings and unique textures of Ellington’s orchestra. I can’t think of a better example of Ellington at his most laid back than Indigos. For some, it might be a little too subtle. There is inner beauty and luxury here that rewards repeated listening.
DENNIS DAVIS, HIFI+ MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2013
Next to Kind of Blue, Ellington’s Indigos may be the biggest jazz audiophile chestnut, an LP every record collector worth his or her salt has made a top priority of bagging. It’s a recording made by Columbia in 1958 at the height of its recording prowess, and the fabulous sound achieved in this recording is among the very best things Columbia ever recorded. Ellington was being “rediscovered” in the 1950s and while some may carp that he wasn’t up to his earlier standards, the sessions he recorded for Columbia are still among recorded music’s highest achievements.
The arrangements and song selection on this album are out of this world. Paul Gonsalves’ solo on “Where or When” is one of the most beautiful recordings he ever made. This reissue by Impex was mastered by Kevin Gray. The highs have not disappeared from the tapes–cymbals retain their shimmer and the upper registers of the piano have not suffered from tape degradation. Indeed, in the high frequencies the Impex has more information than my original pressing. Improvements can also be noted in the middle registers, where the instruments have a slightly fuller, more textured sound than on the already fine original. This is ear and soul candy wrapped in a tidy package.
WAYNE GARCIA, THE ABSOLUTE SOUND MAGAZINE, MARCH 2013