on a saturday morning in paris, 1963..

On Wednesday, February 20, 1963, Duke Ellington and his orchestra were performing in Zurich. That evening, a young woman by the name of Sathima Bea Benjamin approached Duke and implored him to listen to her boyfriend's band. Ellington assented. After his show, he escorted Benjamin through the snowy swiss streets, to another club, the Africana. Duke listened intently to a few numbers and then asked Sathima to sing. She sang one song. It was enough for Duke Ellington.

Ellington met with them again the next day and arranged for a recording session in three days. So on Saturday morning, February 23, 1963, in Paris, France, a tape was made of Sathima Bea Benjamin, being produced by Duke Ellington, while she sang a number of random songs suggested on a whim by those present in the studio. Duke played piano on two tracks , Billy Strayhorn played on two, and Abdullah Ibrahim tickled the ivories on the rest. Svend Asmussen played the pizzicato violin with Johnny Gertze on bass, and Makaya Ntshoko on drums.

Strangest yet, is the fact that the record wasn't released for over 30 years. Duke's label at the time, Reprise Records, said it wasn't commercial enough for a vocal album. Benjamin went on to build a reputation as a singer's singer. Finally in the mid-nineties, Gerhard Lehnar took the tape that he recorded, to Enja Records and made this CD possible. On that morning in Paris, he had asked his assistant to, "record this session...for myself, so I preserved these magical moments of absolute beauty", and that they are..moments of beauty. It's jazz, it's slow, but it's the Duke and it's cool.

A Morning in Paris by, Sathima Bea Benjamin

track list:

  1. Darn That Dream
  2. I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
  3. I Could Write A Book
  4. I Should Care
  5. Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year
  6. Solitude
  7. The Man I Love
  8. Your Love Has Faded
  9. I'm Glad There Is You
  10. Soon
  11. Lover Man
  12. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.

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