Earl Hines Plays Duke Ellington
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80361     Release Date: 1988-01-01

This was one of Earl Hines’'s last great achievements on records, and it displays the full range of his genius: an amazing rhythmic imagination, a dazzling, rather aristocratic finesse (somewhat akin to Ellington’'s own) in terms of pianistic touch; and a knack for making even profound ideas seem spontaneously conceived.” —

    -BBC Music Magazine - "The Fifty All-Time Great Jazz Discs"

When time pulled the rug from under Earl Hines in 1983, he was still enjoying a comeback that had lasted almost twenty years. That comeback was one of the most important events in recent jazz history and the music included here was recorded when his return to action was in high gear.

The classic quality that Hines maintained throughout his career, and that dominates these interpretations, was a persistent exuberance, a spirit of engagement. Hines was not incapable of meditative melancholy or the deep sorrow which some consider the epitome of seriousness, but he knew that profound joy is just as significant, and just as serious. For Hines, a pervasive feeling of zest took on form and presence through the rhythmic sensation of swing. His was largely a music of celebration and rhythmically complicated grace. It is almost as though one must listen to his work as if watching the hero of a musical render his condition through dance.

There are slow, even mournful turns and expressions of longing, but they almost invariably mutate into swing. Moving deeper into the implications of the individual piece, finding lines, rhythms, and harmonies further and further removed from the initial point of reference, Hines will return to the melody as so many concert composers do, letting the listener know what it is that all these variations depart from. The relaxation with which Hines achieves all of those things is a definition of elegance, of engagement, of spirit.

Because Hines greatly respected Duke Ellington, and because his close friend and undauntable supporter Stanley Dance was impressed by the idea of this project, the work of the great composer and the imagination of the great pianist met in the arena of jazz. Though close listening will reveal the things that Hines gave to jazz piano and that affected Teddy Wilson, Nat Cole, Billy Kyle, Bud Powell, and numberless others, this is a much more inventive recital than one expects of pianists who evolved in the wake of Powell.

All of Hines’s resources are brought forward and the individual pieces have an unpredictability that makes each of them some special sort of delight. There is the introduction to “Heaven” that reminds one of the harmonies of “Crepuscule with Nellie,” the opening of “'C' Jam Blues” that shows astonishing originality of rhythm, the freedom of the playing of “Black Butterfly,” the range of mood brought to “Creole Love Call,” and so on. One hears a totally unexpected sweep of left-hand inventions, reharmonizations—such as the endings of “Mood Indigo” and “I'm Beginning to See the Light”—that are shocking, and a clarity of sound and scope of attack that express a personality too distinctive to take presence through clichés. When Earl Hines made these recordings, he was the seasoned resource only a great artist can be.

Earl Hines

Earl Hines Plays Duke Ellington

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Love You Madly
Duke Ellington
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Sophisticated Lady
Duke Ellington
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I'm Beginning to See The Light
Duke Ellington
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Black and Tan Fantasy
Duke Ellington
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Warm Valley
Duke Ellington
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Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
Duke Ellington
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C Jam Blues
Duke Ellington
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Caravan
Duke Ellington
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Everything But You
Duke Ellington
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Mood Indigo
Duke Ellington
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Just Squeeze Me
Duke Ellington
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Come Sunday
Duke Ellington
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The Creole Love Call
Duke Ellington
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I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
Duke Ellington
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The Shepherd
Duke Ellington
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Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Duke Ellington
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Black Butterfly
Duke Ellington
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Take Love Easy
Duke Ellington
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The Jeep Is Jumping
Duke Ellington
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Heaven
Duke Ellington
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