Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck: My Albums of the Week #11

I would consider myself an “albums guy” and my taste in music is very varied. In this new feature, I list the albums that I listened to most intensely during the week. The list will include albums old and new, and the number of albums listened to every week will most likely vary on a week-to-week basis.


Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington Plays With the Original Score From Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins
(Reprise, 1964)

Tracklist (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – A Spoonful of Sugar / 2 – Chim Chim Cheree / 3 – Feed the Birds / 4 – Let’s Go Fly a Kite / 5 – Stay Awake / 6 – I Love to Laugh / 7 – Jolly Holiday / 8 – Sister Suffragette / 9- The Perfect Nanny / 10 – Step in Time / 11 – The Life I Lead / 12 – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

The keyword in the title is “with,” as this is no mere by-the-book interpretation of the score of one of Disney’s most beloved movies. Duke Ellington and his tightknit unit of stellar soloists and top arranger Billy Strayhorn, at this time, could go from true highbrow music to playful projects with ease and comfort. While this is a somewhat underlooked album of their oeuvre at this time, it remains as inventive as could me in terms of jazz variations, ranging from the melodic to the down-right avant-garde.


Louis Armstrong
Disney Songs the Satchmo Way
(Buena Vista, 1968)

Tracklist (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo / 2 – ‘Bout Time / 3 – The Ballad of Davy Crockett / 4 – The Bare Necessities / 5 – Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah / 6 – When You Wish Upon a Star / 7 – Whistle While You Work / 8 – Ten Feet Off the Ground / 9 – Heigh Ho / 10 – Chim Chim Cheree

One of Louis Armstrong’s final album, for which he even played trumpet, despite his doctors’ orders. Did he ever sound like he wasn’t having fun doing what he did at a recording session? Admittedly, this is hardly revolutionary music. Paradoxically, however, it makes it easy to see just how much of an influence Satchmo had on Disney music, which may even be a genre all its own.


Dave Brubeck
(Verve, 2020)

Tracklist (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Brahms Lullaby / 2 – When It’s Sleepy Time Down South / 3 – Over the Rainbow / 4 – Danny Boy / 5 – Going to Sleep / 6 – There’s No Place Like Home / 7 – Lullaby for Iola / 8 – Koto Song / 9 – All Through the Night / 10 – Softly, William, Softly / 11 – A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes / 12 – Briar Bush / 13 – Sleep / 14 – Summertime / 15 – Brahms Lullaby (Reprise)

Allegedly, Brubeck’s final studio recording. A set of solo piano covers and improvised pieces. Verve claims it was recorded as a gift to his grandchildren, which may be true. However, I hear more in it than that. I hear the reflection of a man in his old age, facing mortality alone, as Leo Tolstoy taught us. Only Brubeck, lucky for him, has his piano to soothe him and guide him through the final part of his life.

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