ESQUIZITO / “Creole Love Call”

This music spans about eighty years and change. “Creole Love Call” is a composition from the twenties associated with Duke Ellington and copyrighted by Bubber Miley (Duke’s tumpeter), Rudy Jackson, and  Duke. It was the subject of litigation with Jackson charging that the song was originally his. Although he lost the  suit, some critics point to an earlier King Oliver original as the provenance of “Creole Love Call.” I do not know how it actually went, but given the time period of the twenties it's likely that the basic melody was a blues tune that had been around the block a few times. Duke’s gift was in making a distinctive composition out of a well-worn phrase. adelaide hall 01.jpg First recorded in 1927, "Creole Love Call" came to fame as a vehicle for vaudeville vocalist and dancer Adelaine Hall. Hall’s achievement was to do both the “pure” operatic tones so popular during that period and also to do the down and dirty blues scatting that had become the rage of the Roaring Twenties. Available on A Centenary Celebration. My ears tell me this is the Duke Ellington Orchestra but I can’t be absolutely sure as my source recording is a compilation of Hall recordings and I don’t have any credit listings. If it’s not Duke, these guys should be paying Duke royalties. oliver nelson 01.jpg From 1927 we jump into the sixties with arranger extraordinaire Oliver Nelson. One of the first black musicians to work regularly on television and Hollywood as a composer and musical director, Nelson was at heart a stalwart jazz musician. Rather than try to recreate the twenties sound, Nelson goes for and superbly captures the post World War II sound of the Ellington Orchestra. This is from Nelson's out of print Black, Brown & Beautiful release. It’s no mean feat to convey the spirit of an identifiable sound without at the same time sounding imitative. ellis marsalis 02.jpeg Next up is New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis dropping a solo rendition. I’ve always dug Ellis' solo piano work because of his understanding of the challenge of accompanying oneself and his amazing sangfroid. He not only makes it sound effortless, he also has a regal, lyrical flow mated to a keen and sophisticated harmonic imagination. this is from a wonderful recording: Duke In Blue. esquizito 04.jpg My man Esquizito (another native New Orleanian) does Ellis one better. Esquizito employs a traditional New Orleans outfit, The Panorama Jazz Band complete with clarinet, tuba and banjo. It’s a brilliant concept to go back before Duke to the turn of the century and record as it might have sounded like in Lincoln Park up in Girt Town (uptown New Orleans). Once they get to rocking on the twos and fours, Esquizito eases a two step to the side and let’s the band ride it on out with old style, funky solos. Of course, I’m biased, but I love it and think you will too. this is from of his post-Katrina recordings, Something I Dreamed Last Night - Volume 3. rahsaan 02.jpg We end with a connoisseur of New Orleans jazz: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, a marvelous musician whom some initially dismissed as a vaudeville act because he could, and did, play three saxophones at one time. He was his own reed section. Kirk’s version draws on the modal advancements offered by Miles Davis on Kind Of Blue. That’s another brilliant stroke to go totally modern with the loping waltz rhythm. It's on Inflated Tear. It’s awesome to hear over fifty years of jazz stylings in the course of five versions of a 1927 song. —Kalamu ya Salaam          Ellis is the one         The version I'm digging most of all of these is the Ellis Marsalis solo turn. Like Kalamu says, Ellis' playing is effortless, regal, lyrical and sophisticated. He never goes for the spectacular move, the big move or the flashy move. He plays well within his capabilities, giving you exactly what he knows how to do. But there's decades and decades of experience in his fingers, in his head and in his soul. Ellis really knows how to use those keys to communicate that beauty of the blues. Plus, the man always plays so deep in the pocket. I love it. Sometimes it sounds like there's a whole back-a-town blues band up there playing with him. You can just see four or five gray-headed cats crowded onto a little stage, cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths; their sporting slacks and button-down shirts with their fedoras crooked to the side.Cool. But it's not such thing. Just Ellis Marsalis and his piano, playing the blues. I like the Rahsaan and the Oliver Nelson too, and the Esquizito really ain't bad, but of these, Ellis is the one for me. —Mtume ya Salaam

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