Blues in Orbit is an album by American pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington recorded for the Columbia label in 1959 and released in 1960.
"Blues in Orbit" seems to get overlooked when Ellington's best albums are discussed, but it is a real keeper. There are 11 tracks, none of them is longer than 4:50 and it is all good stuff. There are some familiar favorites like "In a Mellotone" and "C Jam Blues" as well as less often heard gems like "Blues in Blueprint and "Sweet and Pungent".
The featured performers include Ellington stalwarts Johnny Hodges, Ray Nance, Harry Carney and Jimmy Hamilton, as well as the less familiar Booty Wood and Matthew Gee. Johnny, in particular is well showcased here, taking the lead in the rousing, "Smada", which is probably my favorite track. Ray shines on his trumpet, but also gets to play the violin on "C Jam Blues". [customer review on a music store website]
Thelonious Monk, in addition to all his other notable qualities, was actually one of Riverside's most valuable talent scouts, recommending such mainstays as Johnny Griffin and Wilbur Ware, and introducing the label to Sonny Rollins and Clark Terry. The astoundingly adept trumpeter was always greatly appreciated by Thelonious, who quickly accepted the invitation to accompany Terry on this occasion. It was an album full of firsts and rarities: Monk's only Riverside appearance as a sideman; the first of Terry's many recordings on flugelhorn; the first of a great many Riverside dates for the great bassist Sam Jones; and the only occasion on which Monk and drummer Philly Joe Jones recorded together.
Three years after Gerry Mulligan initially sat in with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the baritone saxophonist arrived at a point where he could perform alongside Brubeck's alto saxophonist, Paul Desmond, for this much anticipated session. When legal issues, wranglings with producer Norman Granz, and the question of which record label would subsidize and release this album were resolved, the two saxophonists went ahead to produce a delightful program of standards and originals where their more playful sides could fully blossom…