Allmusic.com describes Ellington as the “Greatest all-round musical figure of the 20th century” and they’re not wrong. He was a titan, not just in his field of jazz, but in pretty much anything he turned his hand to – leading his band for nearly 50 years, composing and arranging multiple jazz standards, writing Broadway musicals and film scores.
My grandfather was clearly a fan, and I’ve acquired several of his albums from him. This is the one that was randomised today. It might not appear to be particularly compelling, just the concept would normally be enough to put me off, but handing Sherman & Sherman’s perfectly-crafted songs, many of them sounding too twee and childlike outside the environment of the film, to such a master, it’s amazing to hear what he’s done with them. They swing wider than Dick Van Dyke’s bandy-legged chimney sweep dance.
The delicate dancing piano on Chim Chim Cheree exalts a rather silly song into something really rather special, and he manages to turn the inherently irritating Feed The Birds into an achingly soulful piece of loveliness. Released only a month after the film came out, there was really nothing the Duke couldn’t turn his hand to.
Best Bits: A Spoonful Of Sugar, sweet and swinging
Genre: Jazz Soundtrack
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