Pure Gold From Duke Ellington

Ellington married his high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson (d.1967), on July 2, 1918, when he was 19. Shortly after their marriage, on March 11, 1919 Edna gave birth to their only son, Mercer Kennedy Ellington. Ellington was joined in New York City by his wife and son in the late twenties, but the couple soon permanently separated. Mercer played trumpet and piano, led his own band and worked as his father’s business manager.

Ellington died on May 24, 1974 of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia, a few weeks after his 75th birthday. His last words were, “Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered.”. At his funeral, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, “It’s a very sad day. A genius has passed.”.

Following Duke’s death, his son Mercer took over leadership of the orchestra continuing until his own death in 1996. This group continued to release albums long after Ellington’s death. Mercer’s children continue a connection with their grandfather’s work.


Pure Gold

Duke Ellington

Side One

Take the “A” Train
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
Mood Indigo
Black and Tan Fantasy

Side Two

The Twitch
Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me
The Mooche
Sophisticated Lady
Creole Love Call

Mr. Richard’s Reviews: 101 Strings – A Night In The Tropics EP

101 Strings – A Night In The Tropics EP – The Lady And The Matador, You My Love, Exotic Night, and The Magic Island (performed by The 101 Strings Orchestra)

This was an odd find whilst crate digging in town. As I love easy-listening music, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up when I found it. As far as the EP goes, this is one from the series of literally hundreds that is worth having.

As soon as it comes on, there is an orchestral fullness of Mexican undertones. Because there are anywhere from 128 to 141 players at once, the quality of the recording is amazing and it brings me back to my trip to Cozumel, Mexico, or an any other island in the Caribbean I imagine.

The 101 stringed instruments are always 30 first violins, 26 second violins, 20 violas, 18 cellos, and 7 string basses. The rest of the instruments may include woodwinds, brass, and percussion typically, all of which are comprised of interchangeable concertmeisters in the first chairs and other talented concert performers from around Europe. This is a way to keep costs down but still maintain the style and sound of “name” conductors’ orchestras and build a wide variety of releases.

Usually the EPs, started by Dick L. Miller in 1957, were produced around a particular, unifying theme like the work of a well-known artist or songwriter, a specific topic (patriotism, holidays, et al.), TV/movie themes and scores, songs from a particular country, revampings of familiar tunes from other genres, and so on. However, some were original scores. ‘A Night In The Tropics’ is an EP from the first year that the group formed in 1957 and released in 1958.

Unfortunately, they were disbanded in 1981, but if you can find any of their 45rpm EPs don’t hesitate to purchase it and try it out. Hopefully it isn’t a reissue as some are very collectible and sought after! This truly is one of my favorite 4 song EPs that we own.

- Mr. Richard

Check out the original post HERE.

Robert Maxwell’s Shangri-La

Robert Maxwell (born April 19, 1921, died February 7, 2012) was a harpist and songwriter.

Born Max Rosen he and his two brothers, Abe Rosen (1916-2007) and Myor Rosen (1917-2009), all played the harp professionally. Abe Rosen was known for his work playing in New York shows and Myor Rosen was the principal harpist for the New York Philharmonic for thirty years.

Max eventually found himself in the United States Coast Guard where he performed for servicemen, and he developed a talent for playing in a more down-to-earth style. He entered a contest on radio station KFI in Los Angeles, failing to make the finals but gaining second prize. This led to many appearances on radio, television, and the movies, including one summer as replacement for Frank Sinatra on the CBS.

He went on to devising his own arrangements, and composed three songs which he is remembered: “Little Dipper” (1959), “Ebb Tide” (1953) and “Shangri-La” (1964) which hit #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another of his songs, “Solfeggio”, performed by Maxwell’s orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers, gained unexpected fame as the theme for Ernie Kovacs’ regular comedy skit called The Nairobi Trio.


Side One


Side Two

That Old Black Magic

The Ellington Showcase

“By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.” – Duke Ellington


Ellington Showcase

Duke Ellington

Side One

Harlem Air Shaft
Serious Serenade
Clarinet Melodrama
Theme for Trambean

Side Two

Gonna Tan Your Hide
Falling Like a Raindrop
La Virgen de la Macarena
Don’t Ever Day Goodbye
Big Drag

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Are Hooked On Classics

Oof, this one was a bit of a doozy to enter. Each side is a medley of different classical artists so there’s a ton to take in despite it being a single.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), based in London, was formed by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1946. In its early days the orchestra secured profitable recording contracts and important engagements including the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the concerts of the Royal Philharmonic Society. After Beecham’s death in 1961 the orchestra’s fortunes declined steeply; it battled for survival until the mid-1960s, when its future was secured after an Arts Council report recommended that it should receive public subsidy.

In 2004 the orchestra acquired its first permanent London base, at the new Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. The RPO also gives concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and venues around the UK and other countries. From its earliest days the orchestra has been active in the recording studios, making film soundtracks and numerous gramophone recordings; many of the LP recordings conducted by Beecham and others have been reissued on compact disc.


Hooked on Classics

Side One

Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1

Rimsky-Korsakov – Flight of the Bumble Bees

Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G Minor

Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue

Sibelius – Karella Suite

Mozart – Aria from The Marriage of Figaro

Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet

Clarke – Trumpet Voluntary

Handel – Hallelujah Chorus

Grieg – Piano Concerto in A Minor

Bizet – March of the Toreadors

Side Two

Sibelius – Karella Suite

Beethoven – Symphony No. 5

Bach – Toccata in D Minor

Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Beethoven – Symphony No. 9

Rossini – William Tell Overture

Mozart – Aria from The Marriage of Figaro

Bizet – March of the Toreadors

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Wyclef

Bear with me now. I’m about to lay down a knowledge overload on Wyclef Jean. I mean you could just to Wikipedia, but I trim down all the fluff and lets face it, are you really leaving me? You love me! Anyway, back to the point, I grew up loving the Fugees and later followed Wyclef’s solo career. He’s had some misses along the way but you cannot deny the contribution made to music’s history and culture. He’s had quite the long career and collaborated with numerous other artists and that, I dig, I definitely do.

I’m also pretty obsessed with Haitian culture right now. My roommate’s PCA is actually from Haiti so I get to listen to all of her great childhood stories whenever I’m home to see her. Yes, the island has had their shares of tragedies and troubles but it is a really gorgeous place and the people are fantastic.

Wyclef Jeanelle Jean (born October 17, 1969) is a Haitian hip hop recording artist, musician, actor, and politician. At age nine, Jean moved to the USA with his family and has spent much of his life in the country. He first received fame as a member of the acclaimed New Jersey hip hop group the Fugees. Jean has won three Grammy Awards for his musical work.


On August 5, 2010, Jean filed for candidacy in the 2010 Haitian presidential election, although the Electoral Commission subsequently ruled him ineligible to stand as he had not met the requirement to have been resident in Haiti for five years. Jean’s efforts at earthquake relief, highly publicized throughout Haiti and the U.S., were channeled through his charitable organization, Yéle Haiti. The charity, which performed a variety of charitable works in Haiti between 2005 and 2010, effectively closed in 2012 after much controversy.

Wyclef’s Time With The Fugees:

The Fugees formed in the 1980s but later in the early 1990s they changed their name to what we’ve all come to know them as, The Fugees. The group’s debut album was released in 1994 but achieved limited commercial success. In 1996, the Fugees released their second album, titled The Score. The album achieved significant commercial success in the U.S., topping the US Billboard 200.


Four commercially successful singles were released from The Score; “Fu-Gee-La”, the first single from the album, peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The other three singles – “Killing Me Softly”, “Ready or Not” and “No Woman, No Cry” – did not appear on the Billboard Hot 100 as they were not released for commercial sale, making them ineligible. “Killing Me Softly” is a cover of the Roberta Flack song and “No Woman, No Cry” is a cover of the Bob Marley & The Wailers song of the same name as well.

The group also collaborated with singer Bounty Killer on the single “Hip-Hopera” and recorded the single “Rumble in the Jungle” for the soundtrack to the film When We Were Kings in 1997. The Fugees have not released any studio albums since The Score, but a compilation album, Greatest Hits, was released in 2003.

Wyclef Rolling Solo

Wyclef announced plans to begin a solo career with 1997’s The Carnival. The album’s guests included Lauryn Hill, Pras, the I Threes and more. The album was a hit, as were two singles: “We Trying to Stay Alive” (adapted from the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”) and “Gone Till November” (recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra).

Released in 2000, Jean’s second solo album was recorded with guests including Youssou N’Dour, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kenny Rogers, Mary J. Blige and more. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Jean participated in the benefit concert, contributing a cover of the Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. His third album was released in 2002 and fourth in November 2003. In 2004, he released his fifth album, with most of its songs in his native language of Haitian Creole.


During a period between 2004 and 2006 and fueled by a reunion performance in Dave Chappelle’s “Block Party”, it appeared that the Fugees were on track to record a new album, however Fugees member Pras claimed to Billboard, “To put it nicely, it’s dead.”

Jean released his sixth album in September 2007 then after many guest appearances, in November 2009, a track titled “Suicide Love” featuring rapper Eve leaked online prior to the release of his EP. The EP was released on November 10, 2009.

Wyclef Jean’s upcoming self-entitled studio album was due to be released in 2011, but has still yet to be released. “Hold On,” the lead single from the project, will feature Dancehall artist Mavado.


Two Wrongs

Side One

Two Wrongs feat. Claudette Ortiz of City High (Album Version)
Two Wrongs feat. Claudette Ortiz of City High (Instrumental)
Two Wrongs feat. Claudette Ortiz of City High (A Cappella)

Side Two

Masquerade feat. M.O.P., Bumpy Knuckles and Miri (Clean Album Version)
Masquerade feat. M.O.P., Bumpy Knuckles and Miri (Instrumental)