“Duke Ellington could have been forgiven if, by the time he was 67, he had gradually lost his creative desire not to mention his writing skills. But his genius never dimmed as witness the new music…on this superb set” (Yanow).
“The album’s title is something of a misnomer, since only one track – Ad Lib on Nippon, inspired by a 1964 tour of Japan – is strictly speaking 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 Amman, Kabul, New Delhi, Sri Lanka, Tehran, Madras, Mumbai, Baghdad, and Cairo” (Wikipedia.org).
“In early 1964, while on tour in England, Ellington and Strayhorn performed four pieces of music for the first time (Mynah, Depk, Agra, and Amad), which they called ‘Expressions of the Far East.’ By the time of the recording sessions in late 1966 Ellington and Strayhorn had added four more pieces” (Wikipedia.org).
One of those, “The beautiful Isfahan (a memorable Johnny Hodges feature), became the best-known melody” (Yanow) and “a jazz standard” (Wikipedia.org). The song “was formerly known as ‘Elf,’ and had in fact been written months prior to the 1963 tour” (Wikipedia.org).
“Paul Gonsalves and Jimmy Hamilton are also among the main stars with the clarinetist being showcased throughout ‘Ad Lib on Nippon.’ But it is the writing of Ellington and Strayhorn in their late prime that makes this one of his more memorable recordings” (Yanow).