What with the weather and all here in London, there's been nothing much else to do but, having put it off for a decade, have a go at the ten 78s I have of the Webster-Blanton band, as Ellington's 1940/1 line-up is denoted. In all fairness as well as the contributions of Ben Webster and Jimmy Blanton the band has many great soloists and the compositions based mostly on the AABA structure of the popular songs of the day or the blues (and sometimes both in one piece) allow them to strut their stuff. I relish the fluency and intensity of Barney Bigard's clarinet featured on "Are You Sticking" and "Across the Track Blues". Harry Carney is given the opening statement of "Perdido" and doesn't disappoint. He gets to swap shouts with the band on "Sepia Panorama" which is one of the many "call and response" sections of these compositions. "Never No Lament" which got turned into the song "Don't get around much anymore" is mostly soloists and band exchanging 2-bar phrases and Lawrence Brown's trombone solo is one of his most intense. I was puzzled by some apparently extraneous noises but in the end decided they were Sonny Greer going a bit wild as you will hear him do on quite a few tracks. "Jumpin' Punkins" has several sections with the drums featured. "Jump for Joy" starts off with a repeated intro and then Joe Nanton's wa-wa trombone ( which is a major contributor to these tracks ). The brass then respond with as joyful a phrase as you could wish for. "A Portrait of Bert Williams" and "Morning Glory" include contributions from Rex Stewart with his mellow cornet style and some translucent sax-section writing.
I've left out Hodges and Cootie and the Duke himself but no matter. If you don't have superior versions of these tracks and maybe even if you do, give them a listen and please not on head-phones unless you absolutely have to.http://www.cliveheathmusic.co.uk/transcriptions_11.php