The Far East Suite

The Far East Suite

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The Far East Suite

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The Far East Suite is an album by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, recorded in New York City on 19 December to 21 December 1966. The nine compositions on the original album were all composed by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (except for one by Ellington); a 1995 reissue (called somewhat misleadingly The Far East Suite — Special Mix) added four previously unreleased alternative takes. In 2003, Bluebird Records issued the album as a Digipak CD with additional bonus takes.

Background

The album's title is something of a misnomer: as Richard Cook and Brian Morton have noted, "it really should have been The Near East Suite." Strictly speaking, only one track – "Ad Lib on Nippon", inspired by a 1964 tour of Japan – is concerned with a country in the "Far East". The rest of the music on the album was inspired by a world tour undertaken by Ellington and his orchestra in 1963, which took in Beirut, Amman, Kabul, New Delhi, Sri Lanka, Tehran, Madras, Mumbai, Baghdad, and Cairo (visits to Istanbul, Nicosia, Cairo, Alexandria, Athens, and Thessaloniki were postponed when the news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy reached the tour party).

In early 1964, while on tour in England, Ellington and Strayhorn performed four pieces of music for the first time ("Mynah", "Depk", "Agra", and...
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