Featured in Michael Fremer's Heavy Rotation in the October 2011 Issue of Stereophile & Rated 8/10 Music, 8/10 Sonics in his December 2011 reviews on musicangle.com!
Limited to 5000 copies! Individually Numbered!
TAS Rated 4/5 Music, 3.5/5 Sonics in the April 2011 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
From the original source tapes, the sound on these 180-gram LPs mastered by Kevin Gray and pressed at RTI in Camarillo is warm and brilliant.
There Are Jazz Giants. And There Is Royalty, Mosaic Presents Ella & Duke Live in 1966!
You really never know how music festival special events will turn out. Promoters dream them up, like prize fights. Get the two biggest heavyweights in the ring, and you've got yourself a gate. For the audience, there can be an electric charge in the moment, hearing favorites in unfamiliar pairings. In retrospect rarely do you experience anything explosive. That was not the case in 1966 when Ella Fitzgerald met Duke Ellington, for the final time in their careers.
"When you sit back and add this all together, at the very least it amounts to an unrepeatable event. It is also a hugely varied program of music, stemming from a single four-day stint." - Brian Priestley, liner notes
The festival at Antibes/Juan-les-Pins, on the French Cote D'Azur, had already established itself as a destination for jazz lovers drawn to the lovely Mediterranean summers, when events follow each other throughout the season. The jazz event enjoyed an excellent reputation through the 1960s, and remains one of the top jazz festivals in the world. But it's hard to imagine any achieving as much raw emotion as the collaboration by these two acknowledged masters.
A Special 12-inch LP Release! Now, Mosaic's 3 LP re-release of "Ella & Duke at the Cote D'Azur" on 180-gram vinyl recalls the event for a new generation of listeners. It is a re-release of the original 2-LP set, plus the Ellington album "Soul Call" issued from the same concerts. Essentially, our set presents everything that was chosen, approved and released by the producer and the artists at the time.
At the time, Ella couldn't know that she and Duke - who had shared the recording studio and the stage with her before - would never appear together again. But the First Lady of Song delivered in that concert series like she was singing for the ages.
The weekend series was charged with feelings for an extremely sad reason - Ella was forced to fly to New York, and missed the first night of the festival, because of the sudden death of her half-sister Frances. That she could return to France to honor the booking is remarkable in itself. That she could unleash such extraordinary musical power in her trio and big band performances is almost unbelievable.
Big Band and Small Group Presentations! The concert format presented Ellington and Ella together with the orchestra; the orchestra alone without vocals; and Ella with a sometimes stripped-down version of the orchestra, but mostly accompanied by the Jimmy Jones Trio. Where Ella's studio performances could be almost too perfectly lovely and self-possessed, in these concert dates she seemed to connect to the lyrics with unique emotionalism, and to an inner confidence that allowed her to stretch beyond the norm. You expect fireworks in her rendition with the band of "Mack the Knife," and Ella doesn't disappoint. Another Ella favorite, "It Don't Mean a Thing," gets an incredibly jazzy rendition - free and fun for her and for Ellington guests Jo Jones, Ben Webster and Ray Nance (sharing vocals with Ella). The recordings prove that, as magisterial as Ella was in the studio and so in control of her gifts, she could be a woman unleashed in concert.
Her always-admired scatting took on new musicianship in the presence of such renowned soloists, and on ballads she achieved unparalleled nuance and texture. In particular, the lovely "The More I See You,' backed only by pianist Jimmy Jones, reaches a startling level of intimacy.
Mutual Respect. The Ellington orchestra was his mid-sixties configuration featuring long-time associates Cootie Williams, Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Ray Nance, and the great Johnny Hodges, plus Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington, Russell Procope, Sam Woodyard, Paul Gonsalves and more, including special guest appearances by Ben Webster and Jo Jones.
A highlight of the date is his recording of the extended composition "La Plus Belle Africaine," introduced on tour earlier in the year. It features John Lamb on a bowed bass solo, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, and Harry Carney on baritone saxophone.
Friends since the 1930s, Ella and Duke only recorded later in their careers: first for their collaboration on the Ellington installation of her series of "Songbook" sets in 1957; during the "Ella at Duke's Place" recording in 1965; and earlier the same year of the Cote d'Azur recordings for the "Stockholm Concert." Clearly for these two, getting together was more than a casual gig. It was a opportunity to celebrate their combined contributions to the music.
The Mosaic set - available in an LP-only release --- includes 20 compositions, an historical analysis and track by track breakdown by Brian Preistly, plus many rarely seen photographs. It includes something else - history. Please don't miss owning it.
Recording live to two-track stereo is no easy feat! The engineer has captured each instrument or voice with just the right microphone and equalization from the get-go. Even more challenging is capture the right balance among the many musicians to get the essence and clarity of the music. So it's a real pity that the engineer who did such a great job of recording Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington at the Antibes Jazz Festival in Juan-les-Pins, France has gone uncredited. From the original source tapes, the sound on these 180-gram LPs mastered by Kevin Gray and pressed at RTI in Camarillo is warm and brilliant.
"Sound is well balanced and tonally rich, with good bass definition and an impressive dynamic bounce." - Wayne Garcia, The Absolute Sound Magazine, April 2011, Issue 212
"Honestly, you get your box set's money's worth just from side one, but there's plenty more where that came from... Ella and Duke make it sound so easy and perfect, but while it was pretty much perfect, it couldn't have been easy. Hearing these stars still at their peak performing before an enthusiastic live audience is a thrill. Another thrill is hearing the astonishing sonic improvement this reissue makes over the original releases. Transparency, dynamics, frequency response are all far superior compared to the somewhat warmed-over and dynamically compressed and distant originals." - Michael Fremer, musicangle.com, Music 8, Sound 8!
Limited Edition - 5000 copies
3LP Box Set
Numbering appears on the outside cover of 12" x 12" booklet
12" x 12" booklet featuring rare photos and liner notes
Remixed from the original two-track tapes!
Mastered by Kevin Gray at Scoutech Mastering!
Pressed at R.T.I. in California
Recorded live in Juan-les-Pins, on the French riviera, between June 26 and July 29, 1966.
Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington, Herbie Jones, Cootie Williams, trumpets
Lawrence Brown, Buster Cooper, trombones
Chuck Connors, bass trombone
Johnny Hodges, alto sax
Russell Procope, clarinet, alto sax
Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet, tenor sax
Paul Gonsalves, Ben Webster, tenor sax
Harry Carney, clarinet, bass clarinet, (bari)
Buster Cooper, claves
Chuck Connors, maracas
Ray Nance, (cor, vln, vcl)
Duke Ellington, Jimmy Jones, piano
John Lamb, Jim Hughart, bass
Sam Woodyard, Grady Tate, drums
Ella Fitzgerald, vocals
LP1, Side A:
1. Mack The Knife
2. The Old Circus Train Turn-around Blues
3. Lullaby Of Birdland
LP1, Side B
2. Going Out Of My Head
3. How Long Has This Been Going On?
4. Diminuendo In Blue / Blow By Blow
LP2, Side A
1. It Dont Mean A Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing)
2. All Too Soon
LP2, Side B
1. Jazz Samba (So Danco Samba)
2. Rose Of The Rio Grande
3. The More I See You
4. El Viti (The Matador)
5. Just Squeeze Me (But Please Dont Tease Me)
LP3, Side A
1. La Plus Belle Africaine
2. West Indian Pancake
LP3, Side B
1. Soul Call
2. Skin Deep
3. Jam With Sam