The classic 1962 album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane showcased the rising jazz saxophone innovator performing alongside the long-established piano institution. While the pairing might have portended a dynamic clash of the musical generations, instead we got a casual, respectful, and musically generous meeting of like-minded souls. Similarly, while one might have assumed that Ellington would use his sidemen, instead producer Bob Thiele (who also produced similar albums for Ellington including pairings with Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins) chose to bring in Coltrane's own outfit for the proceedings.
In the late 1940s, Louis Armstrong disbanded his orchestra and returned to the small group format, resulting in the birth of his legendary "All Stars" band.
In its original incarnation, it was a truly all-star quintet, which boasted the great Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard and Sidney Catlett as its other members. Sustaining a group that included so many former leaders was not easy, and although the name remained, the components changed. This 1962 concert at Stockholm, for instance, presents none of the original members except for Louis himself. The band members proved effective accompanists for the group's primary star. Most of them were well known jazz figures.
A wonderful artifact, this is a prime slice of the latter-day Satchmo with a small all-stars band working through a relatively typical set. The performance ranges from solid to excellent, with the occasional odd flub (such as the uncertain return after Danny Barcelona's first drum solo on "Basin Street Blues"), but the quality of the recording is the key element. The Mobile Fidelity gold CD edition adds three tracks to the Storyville original, and provides a clear, uncluttered sound field with excellent separation. The resulting album is a treat to hear. ~ Steven McDonald, Rovi