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“Far East Suite”
Anthony Brown’s Orchestra
(1999)

“Brown and his colleagues have taken the Far East Suite a giant step beyond [its] original jazz orchestra parameters, which is a major accomplishment.”

   — Jazz Times magazine

In homage to the musical legacy and humanitarian achievements of Duke Ellington, Brown chose to commemorate Ellington’s 1999 centennial with a new interpretation of the Far East Suite, blending the sounds of the jazz orchestra with musical instruments and concepts from Iran, Japan, and China.

Read more about this CD:  “Far East Suite: The Director’s Notes”

1.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Tourist Point of View
 6.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Mount Harissa
2.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah)
 7.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Blue Pepper (Far East Blues)
3.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Isfahan
 8.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Agra
4.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Depk
 9.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Amad
5.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Mount Harissa (Prelude)
10.   Listen to a 30-second sound clip Ad Lib on Nippon

Anthony Brown: director, conductor, drumset with pedal tom, gong; Louis Fasman: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Mark Izu: bass, sheng (mouth organ); Jon Jang: piano; Qi Chao Liu: sheng, suona (reed trumpet), dizi (bamboo flute); Melecio Magdaluyo: alto and baritone saxophones; Dave Martell: trombone; Hafez Modirzadeh: tenor and alto saxophones, alto clarinet, ney (end-blown flute), karna and goshme (Persian double reed instruments), daf (frame drum); Jim Norton: clarinet, alto and baritone saxophones, bassoon, piccolo; Wayne Wallace: trombone; Francis Wong: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet; John Worley: trumpet, fluegelhorn.

Anthony Brown’s Liner Notes to “Far East Suite”

The Duke Ellington Orchestra embarked on a US State Department tour of the Middle East and Asia in September 1963. After several successful weeks of performance engagements, ambassadorial appearances and cultural exchange activities in Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, the tour was unfortunately canceled following the assassination of President Kennedy. Ellington returned to Asia the next year when the Orchestra was invited to tour Japan. In 1966, the Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded the Far East Suite, a multicultural musical portrait by Ellington and collaborator Billy Strayhorn inspired by the people and countries who had welcomed them on their travels.

In homage to the musical legacy and humanitarian achievements of Duke Ellington, Brown chose to commemorate Ellington’s 1999 centennial with a new interpretation of the Far East Suite, blending the sounds of the jazz orchestra with musical instruments and concepts from Iran, Japan, and China. This music was performed in the spirit of the original Ellington Orchestra, featuring arrangements and contributions resulting from collaboration among the members of the Asian American Orchestra.

In the centennial year of Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington, millions of people around the world who have been touched by his music celebrated his birth. In homage to the musical legacy and humanitarian achievements of Duke Ellington, we chose to commemorate him with a new interpretation of the Far East Suite, blending the sounds of the jazz orchestra with musical instruments and concepts from Iran, Japan, and China. This music is performed in the spirit of the original Ellington Orchestra, featuring arrangements and contributions created through collaboration among the members of the Asian American Orchestra.

Of all the numerous achievements of his half-century career, Ellington’s pioneering of the process of collaborative composition is perhaps his most profound contribution. Music composition, a traditionally singular endeavor in western practices, became the democratic ideal in practice with Ellington’s Orchestra. Ellington and Strayhorn fully intended to write pieces which were evocative of their eastern experiences, yet were idiomatically familiar enough to the orchestra members to be welcomed challenges for personalized expressions. Recognition by critics of the Far East Suite as a masterpiece is all the more poignant because it was their last extended collaboration to be recorded during Strayhorn’s lifetime. By the session dates just before Christmas in 1966, Strayhorn knew he was dying of the cancer that would end his life the next May. Of the nine sections of the suite, he contributed only two originals--Bluebird of Delhi and Agra, since Isfahan had been composed before their eastern tours.

Among the various awards this recording has received are a 2000 Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and inclusion as various critics’ best album of the year in Jazz Times and Downbeat magazines.

Above all, I wish to praise Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington for all the love he shared through his wondrous music, bringing millions of people together across all boundaries separating persons, places, things or times.

     — Anthony Brown, Ph.D.

Produced by Anthony Brown
Recorded by Robert Berenson at Bay View Studios, Richmond, CA on March 31 and April 1, 1999. Mixed by Robert Berenson and Mark Edwards, mastered by Brian Walker. Design by Anthony Brown and David Barker, graphics by David Barker. Orchestra photographs by Andy Nozaka; Ellington photograph courtesy the Ellington Collection, NMAH, Smithsonian Institution.

Special Thanks to the members of the Asian American Orchestra, Martha, Sumi, Simone & Georgia Brown, Dan Nielsen, Gina Hotta, Robert Berenson, David Barker, Mark Edwards, Brian Walker, Bud Spangler, Sam and Steve Suda, Ann Kuebler and Ken Kimery of the Smithsonian Institution, Tardon Feathered of Mr. Toad’s, and the staffs, interns and volunteers of Asian Improv Records/Justice Matters, CBCIS, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and City Centre Digital.

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Other Recordings
by Anthony Brown:



India & Africa (2010)



Ten (2008)



Rhapsodies (2005)



Monk’s Moods (2002)



Behind Barbed Wire (1998)



Family (1996)




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