April 2013 CD of the Month

Jan 23, 2014

Duke Ellington Orchestra  The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse  Fantasy Records

April is an important month for public radio music stations and jazz as it is "Public Radio Music Month" and "Jazz Appreciation Month". In commemoration of these dual events, jazz89KUVO launched its own creation, "Around The World In April" taking listeners to different destinations on the globe every day to spotlight the artists and music recorded at each daily location. Moreover, we included fun facts of the region covering history, culture, festivals and cuisine. To put the icing on the cake for April, the 29th is the day Duke Ellington was born in the nation’s capital and the 30th is the 2nd Annual International Jazz Day organized by UNESCO. For this historic and captivating month we chose Duke Ellington Orchestra’s landmark recording for Fantasy Records, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, a suite in 8 parts composed by Duke just 3 years before his passing and based on his extensive world-wide travels. In Duke’s spoken introduction to this exquisite album, he says, “…and of course, we travel around the world a lot.", a remarkable understatement that doesn’t do justice to the volume of Ellington’s journeys nor the influence of cultures that he encountered which can be heard in the music of his last decade. 

The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse was recorded in 1971 at the National Recording Studio of New York City on February 17, 1971. Despite the retirement or passing of several Ellington orchestra key members and the advanced age of Duke, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney and Cootie Williams, the Duke Ellington sound was still compelling as the core of the band was augmented by many veteran players including Duke’s son, Mercer. Mr. Ellington was never satisfied just composing and playing the “same ol’, same ol’” songbook, even in the last stage of his glorious career so his final recordings and concerts reflected the experiences and cultural influences he and the orchestra enjoyed in their joyful journeys around the world. Duke was motivated to compose The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse after reading an article by the Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan who coined the terms "global village" and "the medium is the message" as well as predicting the existence of a world-wide web decades before it was created. Over 40 years since it’s recording, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse has stood the test of time as it doesn’t sound antiquated nor is its concept dated, in fact it sounds as if it was recorded in the 21st century, that’s the genius of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington.