The 1974-'75 recording sessions comprising Continuum were the Duke Ellington Orchestra's first without the Maestro, who died, at 75, in May 1974. Assuming the helm was Duke's son, Mercer Ellington (1919-1996), who as a composer, arranger, and trumpeter had been involved with the organization on and off since the early 1940s, when his father led arguably his finest ensemble of all. The personnel here includes such Ellingtonian giants as trumpeter Cootie Williams and the nonpareil baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, both of whom had been key members of the aforementioned band, as well as tenor saxophonist Harold Ashby. Carney is beautifully featured on "Drop Me Off in Harlem," from the July 1974 session that would prove to be his valedictory (he passed away three months later), and his memory is honored in a piece that bears his surname, featuring baritonist Joe Temperley. Temperley is among a passel of gifted younger soloists, including tenor player Ricky Ford. The program, with four previously unreleased tracks, spotlights several of the Maestro's signature compositions for his matchless early-Forties unit, as well as Mercer's rich "Blue Serge." That Duke's grandson, guitarist Edward II, is also on hand for these proceedings makes Continuum even more aptly titled.
with Harold Ashby, Art Baron, James "Buddy" Bolden, Harry Carney, Chuck Connors, Bill Easley, Edward Ellington II, Ricky Ford, Anatole Gerasimov, Barry Lee Hall, Money Johnson, Calvin Ladner, Percy Marion, Lloyd Mayers, Harold Minerve, Vince Prudente, Larry Ridley, Maurice Simon, Willie Singleton, James Spaulding, Joe Temperley, Freddie Waits, Rocky White, J.J. Wiggins, and Cootie Williams