Unearthed Duke Ellington, Conny Plank recordings a must for fans

Duke Ellington arrived in West Berlin on Tempelhof airfield, Feb. 15, 1963. Duke Ellington is giving a jazz concert in the Berlin Deutschlandhalle. Having left the airplane, he is scolded by a stewardess when he tries to light a cigarette. (AP Photo/Reichert)

‘The Conny Plank Session’
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (Gronland)
4 stars out of 5

Conny Plank was a 30-year-old up-and-coming Krautrock producer in 1970 when he hooked up with legendary jazz bandleader Duke Ellington for a recording session in Cologne, Germany. Ellington, 71 at the time, was still on the road with his renowned orchestra and the music they recorded with Plank — who went on to great acclaim for his work with Kraftwerk, Neu !, Ultravox and Eurythmics — has never been available until now.

Duke CD“Duke Ellington’s musical works are seemingly well documented,” German musician Henrik von Holtum says in the liner notes of “The Conny Plank Session.” “The likelihood of finding a good, unreleased Duke Ellington recording is slight at best. When Gronland Records called and told me they had found exactly that in Conny Plank’s estate and asked me if I wanted to give it a listen, I felt pretty honored and excited.”

It’s a brief collection of six tracks totaling just 30 minutes, but “The Conny Plank Session” is a must for any Ellington fan. There are three takes each of “Alerado” and “Afrique,” with Ellington and Plank doing impressive work throughout. Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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