Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington: The Great Summit [deluxe edition] (1961) 2000

01 The Great Summit,  the Master Takes

Track list:

CD 1 [The Master Takes]:

01. Duke’s Place
02. I’m Just a Lucky So and So
03. Cottontail
04. Mood Indigo
05. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
06. The Beautiful American
07. Black and Tan Fantasy
08. Drop Me Off in Harlem
09. The Mooche
10. In a Mellow Tone
11. It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it ain’t got that swing)
12. Solitude
13. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
14. I’m Beginning to See the Light
15. Just Squeeze Me
16. I Got It Bad (and that ain’t good)
17. Azalea

02 The Great Summit, the Making of

CD 2 [The Making of]:

01. In a Mellow Tone
01a. warm-up
01b. take one – complete take
02. I’m Beginning to See the Light
02a. take one – false start
02b. take four – two false starts
02c. take five – complete take
02d. conversartion, false start
02e. take seven – long false start
03. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
03a. take one – rehearsal, working out arrangement
03b. discussion, complete take
03c. take three – false start
04. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
04a. take two – breakdown
04b. take three – breakdown
04c. take four – discussion, false start
04d. take five – complete take
04e. discussion and rehearsal of ending
05. Duke’s Place
take five – Luckey Roberts intro, complete take
06. Drop Me Off In Harlem
take two – complete take
07. I’m Just a Lucky So and So
07a. conversation
07b. take one – false start
07c. take two – complete take, discussion
08. Azalea
08a. take eight – discussion, false start
08b. take nine – false start
08c. take ten – complete in two sections
09. Black and Tan Fantasy
09a. take three – false start
09b. conversation leading to take four
09c. take five – false start
09d. take six – complete take (this ending was used with take four as the master)
10. Band discussion on Cottontail


Louis Armstrong – trumpet, vocals
Duke Ellington – piano
Trummy Young – trombone
Barney Bigard – clarinet
Mort Herbert – bass
Danny Barcelona – drums

Recorded: at RCA Studios, New York City; April 3 and 4, 1961
Released: 1961 / 1963
Label: Roulette

Original session Producer: Bob Thiele
Recording Engineer: Ray Hall

Liner notes: Stanley Dance

Photography: Arnold Meyers

This Compilation:
Released: 2000
Label: Roulette Jazz – 5 24546

Re-issue producer: Micahel Cuscuna
Re-mixed from original three-track tapes and re-mastered in 24 bit/96 kHz by Roy McMaster

Liner notes: Dan Morganstern

Creative Direction: GordonH. Lee
Art direction and Design: Greenberg Kingsley/NYC

03 Together for the First Time

CD1 #01-10 originally issued on ‘Together for the First Time’ [1961, Roulette SR 52074]
CD1 #11-17 originally issued on ‘The Great Reunion’ [1963, Roulette SR 52103]
CD2 all selections previously unissued.

04 The Great Reunion


A collector’s item, The Great Summit places two fathers of jazz together in the studio with a small ensemble.

It was Louis Armstrong’s all-star band with guest pianist Duke Ellington, and 1961 marked a gradual turning in both artists’ careers.

In time, both would use their instruments less often, as matters turned toward other paths.

Armstrong’s trumpet was still sparkling full and bright with his distinctive phrasing.

Trummy Young and Barney Bigard made ideal sidekicks.

Three of the 17 numbers are instrumental arrangements without vocals.

Over two hours, the 2-CD set offers quite a few subtle surprises. Disc two contains rehearsals, false starts, miscues, and session conversation.

It’s interesting to sit and listen as the band agrees on particular musical ideas and then performs them.

The extensive liner notes by Dan Morgenstern provide ample information on the session; he and Stanley Dance were present.

Duke Ellington wrote “Azalea” 20 years earlier with Armstrong in mind.

The phrasing does seem made for this trumpeter/singer, and of course it turns out as one of the session’s high points.

“Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” is an unusual arrangement of the classic song, with non-standard harmony and tension.

Same for “The Mooche.” These are unique arrangements.

“Just Squeeze Me” contains a loping cowboy rhythm in the trombone part; re-call that television westerns were then quite popular.

With his trumpet tone wearing a bit thin, Armstrong was moving toward more frequent use of vocals.

He scat sings “Cottontail” with that sound we’ve heard only from this source.

The trumpeter’s characteristic shake, his expressive vocals, the all-star band’s cohesiveness, and Ellington’s lovely piano support make this collection a special item.
~Jim Santella[AAJ]