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Duke Ellington: The Reprise Studio Recordings Box set

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 Nov. 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: CLASSICAL
  • ASIN: B0000A9DYT
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Christopher Columbus (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:06£0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. Let's Get Together (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 2:40£0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. GoodbyeDuke Ellington Orch. 3:04£0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Chant Of The Weed (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:25£0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:24£0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. One O'Clock JumpDuke Ellington Orch. 7:20£0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Tuxedo JunctionDuke Ellington Orch. 3:31£0.89  Buy MP3 
  8. Ciribiribin (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:32£0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. It's A Lonesome Old Town When You're Not Around (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 2:23£0.89  Buy MP3 
10. Minnie The Moocher (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 2:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
11. Sentimental JourneyDuke Ellington Orch. 2:33£0.89  Buy MP3 
12. When It's Sleepy Time Down SouthDuke Ellington Orch. 3:17£0.89  Buy MP3 
13. For Dancers Only (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:07£0.89  Buy MP3 
14. Rhapsody In BlueDuke Ellington Orch. 4:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
15. Contrasts (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 2:48£0.89  Buy MP3 
16. SleepDuke Ellington Orch. 2:49£0.89  Buy MP3 
17. Don't Get Around Much AnymoreDuke Ellington Orch. 2:37£0.89  Buy MP3 
18. Auld Lang Syne (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 2:21£0.89  Buy MP3 
19. The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington 3:09£0.89  Buy MP3 
20. Woodchopper's BallDuke Ellington Orch. 3:18£0.89  Buy MP3 
21. Artistry In RhythmDuke Ellington Orch. 3:19£0.89  Buy MP3 
22. Smoke RingsDuke Ellington Orch. 2:56£0.89  Buy MP3 
23. The Waltz You Saved For MeDuke Ellington Orch. 2:30£0.89  Buy MP3 
24. CherokeeDuke Ellington Orch. 2:58£0.89  Buy MP3 
25. Afro-Bossa (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Och. 4:21£0.89  Buy MP3 
26. Purple Gazelle (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Och. 2:43£0.89  Buy MP3 
27. Absinthe (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:35£0.89  Buy MP3 
28. Moonbow (Remastered Album Version)Duke Ellington 2:31£0.89  Buy MP3 
29. Sempre Amore (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:14£0.89  Buy MP3 
30. Caline (Silk Lace) (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:33£0.89  Buy MP3 
31. Tigress (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:07£0.89  Buy MP3 
32. Angu (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:41£0.89  Buy MP3 
33. Volupte (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:45£0.89  Buy MP3 
34. Bonga (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
35. Pyramid (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:05£0.89  Buy MP3 
36. Eighth Veil (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:50£0.89  Buy MP3 
37. Resume #1 (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:15£0.89  Buy MP3 
38. Resume #2 (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:51£0.89  Buy MP3 
39. Tricky's LicksDuke Ellington 3:19£0.89  Buy MP3 
40. Blues In CDuke Ellington 3:57£0.89  Buy MP3 
41. Limbo JazzDuke Ellington 5:28£0.89  Buy MP3 
42. Pretty Little OneDuke Ellington 4:29£0.89  Buy MP3 
43. String Along With StringsDuke Ellington 6:28£0.89  Buy MP3 
44. The Feeling Of JazzDuke Ellington 3:23£0.89  Buy MP3 
45. Take The A TrainDuke Ellington 4:23£0.89  Buy MP3 
46. In A Sentimental MoodDuke Ellington 3:46£0.89  Buy MP3 
47. Don't Get Around Much AnymoreDuke Ellington 3:58£0.89  Buy MP3 
48. Day DreamDuke Ellington 3:11£0.89  Buy MP3 
49. Cotton TailDuke Ellington 4:40£0.89  Buy MP3 
50. Night Creature (First Movement): Blind Bug (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 4:08£0.89  Buy MP3 
51. Night Creature (Second Movement): Stalking Monster (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 7:51£0.89  Buy MP3 
52. Night Creature (Third Movement): Dazzling CreatureDuke Ellington Orch. 4:02£0.89  Buy MP3 
53. Non-Violent Integration (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 5:28£0.89  Buy MP3 
54. La Scala, She Too Pretty To Be Blue (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 6:15£0.89  Buy MP3 
55. Harlem (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch.14:06Album Only
56. Hello Dolly (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:07£0.89  Buy MP3 
57. Call Me IrresponsibleDuke Ellington Orch. 3:19£0.89  Buy MP3 
58. Fly Me To The Moon (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:30£0.89  Buy MP3 
59. So Little Time (2008 Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:03£0.89  Buy MP3 
60. Danke Schoen (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:35£0.89  Buy MP3 
61. More (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:55£0.89  Buy MP3 
62. The Second Time Around (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:43£0.89  Buy MP3 
63. Never On Sunday (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:54£0.89  Buy MP3 
64. I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:04£0.89  Buy MP3 
65. Blowin' In The Wind (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:28£0.89  Buy MP3 
66. Stranger On The Shore (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:52£0.89  Buy MP3 
67. Red Roses For A Blue Lady (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:40£0.89  Buy MP3 
68. CharadeDuke Ellington Orch. 2:39£0.89  Buy MP3 
69. People (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:21£0.89  Buy MP3 
70. All My Lovin' (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch 3:25£0.89  Buy MP3 
71. A Beautiful Friendship (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 2:47£0.89  Buy MP3 
72. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch 2:05£0.89  Buy MP3 
73. Days Of Wine And Roses (2008 Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:22£0.89  Buy MP3 
74. I Can't Stop Loving You (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:56£0.89  Buy MP3 
75. The Good Life (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orch. 3:16£0.89  Buy MP3 
76. Satin Doll (Remastered Album Version)Duke Ellington And His Orchestra 2:31£0.89  Buy MP3 
77. Moon River (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:41£0.89  Buy MP3 
78. Ellington '66 (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:33£0.89  Buy MP3 
79. A Spoonful Of Sugar (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:11£0.89  Buy MP3 
80. Chim Chim Cheree (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:51£0.89  Buy MP3 
81. Feed The Birds (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:42£0.89  Buy MP3 
82. Let's Go Fly A KiteDuke Ellington Orch. 2:31£0.89  Buy MP3 
83. Stay Awake (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:28£0.89  Buy MP3 
84. I Love To LaughDuke Ellington Orch. 2:29£0.89  Buy MP3 
85. Jolly Holiday (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:04£0.89  Buy MP3 
86. Sister Suffragette (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:05£0.89  Buy MP3 
87. The Perfect NannyDuke Ellington Orch. 4:08£0.89  Buy MP3 
88. Step In Time (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:45£0.89  Buy MP3 
89. The Life I Lead (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:43£0.89  Buy MP3 
90. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:27£0.89  Buy MP3 
91. Island Virgin (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 4:07£0.89  Buy MP3 
92. Virgin Jungle (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:46£0.89  Buy MP3 
93. Fiddler On The Diddle (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:14£0.89  Buy MP3 
94. Jungle Kitty (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:00£0.89  Buy MP3 
95. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:57£0.89  Buy MP3 
96. Big Fat Alice's Blues (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:56£0.89  Buy MP3 
97. Chelsea Bridge (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:47£0.89  Buy MP3 
98. The Opener (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:48£0.89  Buy MP3 
99. Mysterious Chick (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:17£0.89  Buy MP3 
100. Barefoot Stomper (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 2:53£0.89  Buy MP3 
101. Fade Up (Remastered Version)Duke Ellington Orchestra 3:38£0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

The 1960s left many great jazz musicians out in the cold. As the musical landscape changed,giants likeDuke Ellington found themselves in danger of becoming dinosaurs, both artistically and commercially. While he could keep his band together through constant touring, Ellington was desperate to keep his music fresh, vital and contemporary. So it was that in 1962 the Duke signed to Frank Sinatra's Reprise label after his contract with Columbia expired. Great things were expected; Ellington was installed as A&R man for Reprise's jazz wing, signing artists like Dollar Brand and Bud Powell.

Unfortunately the association lasted less than three years, and Ellington's Reprise output (nine albums in his own right) has largely been critically ignored (even by the man himself). A quick glance at the discography does suggest a certain lack of focus; experiments with strings, early swing recreations, a jazz violin session, Afro-Latin fusions, pop covers and an album of songs from Mary Poppins.

This beautifully packaged 5 CD set gives you the lot. It's a mixed bag, but even at its most bizarre (it's a surreal experience to hear the Duke covering Acker Bilk's "Stranger On The Shore") we're treated to some wonderful playing and arranging.

Best of the bunch is Afro-Bossa, which is one of the handful of Reprise albums that won some critical acclaim. Its richly orchestrated exotica isn't especially Afro or Latin, but extra percussion gives the band a distinctively different method of propulsion as they pick their way through some old and hitherto unrecorded material.

As usual, Ellington and long term partner Billy Strayhorn coax some gorgeous, inventive textures from the band (particularly the brass); the sound of surprise, indeed. It's this gift that makes even the most facile source material from the Ellington '65 and Ellington '66 sessions (eg "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", "Blowin' In The Wind") take on a new life. It's tempting to spot a degree of sarcasm in some of these arrangements (check the somewhat overripe trombone parping on "Feed the Birds" from the Mary Poppins album), but both men treat their material with due care and attention; in fact, maybe with much more than some of it deserves.

Another qualified success is The Symphonic Ellington, a hotchpotch of sessions recorded with such ensembles as the Hamburg Symphony and La Scala Opera orchestras. The best known piece is 'Harlem', dating from 1951, and it's probably the most successful; elsewhere poor recording and a certain stiffness in the orchestral playing turns the whole thing into a bit of a curate's egg.

As you might expect, there are some wonderful solos throughout; Paul Gonsalves almost reclaims Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" from Ben Webster's clutches, while Johnny Hodges displays his usual blues-soaked majesty on alto. The Reprise period marked the return of trumpeter Cootie Williams to the Ellington band alongside Cat Anderson and Ray Nance, and Ellington takes delight in pushing them into the stratosphere or giving rein to their talents for extreme vocal effects.

Though they might not have had the best material to work with, it's such broad sweeps of tonal colour that puts this band in a different league from say, the 60sBasie Orchestra. Capable of switching from a whisper to a scream in a millisecond, this is an agile, powerful beast. One of the great ensembles of our time, and as such, always worth a listen. --Peter Marsh

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cottontail on 18 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
Constantly neglected through the years, the Reprise catalogue has only recently been given its due recognition. The musical scope is extraordinary, ranging from the brilliant "Afro Bossa" album to the highly enjoyable sessions that produced the retro-albums "Will Big Bands Ever Come Back" and "Recollections of the Big Band Era", which will be elating to swing fans as they will be surprising and jaw-dropping. Even the "Mary Poppins" album in this new remastering will offer many a pleasure to the impartial ear, the arrangements by Ellington and Strayhorn often matching their best efforts. Of course, with a program this varied and relatively commercially directed, the results will not inspire the highbrow lover of the art form called jazz, but to listeners relying on their own aural capacity rather than on some egghead's self-indulgent writing, they will be a source of repeated pleasures. You won't be disappointed ... and it's a good starting point for beginners (not only of Ellingtonia) as well.
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By Udeen on 24 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ellington recorded for the Reprise label between November 1962 and April 1965 (and once more in 1967 for the 'Francis A & Edward K' album). A quick perusal of the nine Reprisal albums that make up this set is hardly very enticing: two efforts that yearn for the time when big bands roamed the Earth ('Will The Big Bands Ever Come Back?' and 'Recollections Of The Big Band Era'); two made up of interpretations of hackneyed pop tunes of the day ('Ellington '65' and 'Ellington '66'); symphonic recordings shoe-horned into tours with an absurd lack of rehearsal time ('The Symphonic Ellington'); a cover of a Julie Andrews musical ('Mary Poppins'); a live album that is not a live album ('Concert In The Virgin Islands'); much scraping and plucking ('Duke Ellington's Jazz Violin Session'); and an album of 12 songs, half of which are rehashes (Afro-Bossa). No, this is not Ellington at his peak, but dismissing this body of work would deprive the listener of a treasure trove of great Ellingtonia.

This Warner/Rhino release has the distinction of being a shrunken version of the impeccable Mosaic Records set of the same name. The Penguin Guide to Jazz reassures us that "... mastering, artwork, sleeve-notes, it's all the same." 'Sleeve notes' does not do justice to the excellent 64 page booklet which includes a full discography and an essay written by Mark Tucker. One note of caution: my copy is labelled 'Spiegel Edition', and the text is in German. I bought the Mosaic booklet. That's how I can assure you that the contents are identical. Tucker's essay includes helpful descriptions of individual songs. I have just listened to the whole of 'Afro-Bossa' in the light of these descriptions, and new layers have been revealed to me.
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This is not Duke's best period, as most critics and fans agree - but it's Duke and his men, so it's still worth owning. There's plenty to enjoy. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could, but being unable to do that I'm opting to err with the higher score.

My main reason for writing this is to let prospective buyers know that the booklet is entirely in German. Mosaic always does great work, and they put this together originally, so I'm sure that if you can read German you'll get a lot from the extensive notes. Sadly for me, I can't.

Of course, the music is most important - and that's in a universal language - but this is far from being an inexpensive set and I suggest factoring in to any buying decision you might make your ability to read German.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
a difficult decision because of price, yet . . . 18 July 2001
By james ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you love Ellington this is a no-brainer. It's a splendid collection of the rare and the sublime. However, if you don't know Ellington or are a general listener of music, the price of the set could be a serious problem. One wishes that the discs could be released separately -- it would be great for the many not-so-famous Duke and Strayhorn pieces that are on the discs, and even better for the listener. So what do I recommend? I believe that this set is one of those few times when one should go ahead, clench one's teeth, and spend the money. The other reviewers of this set have done a very good job describing the music, so I'll not repeat what they have said. I will only add that the song "La Scala: She Too Pretty to be Blue" is likely worth the price of the entire set. I know this statement comes across as a bit of an exaggeration, but this piece is one of those pieces of music that one can listen to everyday for months (I'm speaking from experience!)and which can enter into the rhythms of one's life. It truly deserves greater recognition in the Duke canon as well as in popular music. Moreover, it is probably one of the most original uses of strings ever on a record -- even more so than on "I am the Walrus." The Afro-Bossa Suite also makes the steep price of the set worth it. Quirky minatures, these things get on one's mind for days, weeks. Other pieces in the set that are great: the first movement of Night Creature as well as the jazz violin versions of the some of the classic Duke pieces. I hope I've been helpful. I think this is one of those times when the buyer has to consider the value of great art, and enjoyment, over the value of money. There are wonders here.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Essential to your Ellington Collection 21 Jan. 2004
By Dr. Jazz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am a jazz fan for almost 20 years. I collect jazz recordings, and have 26 albums of Duke Ellington music alone. With that said, I have only made a drop in the bucket, as he composed over 2000 songs. I am still exploring the body of work produced by the master jazz composer of the last 100 years, and loved what I found here.
The material presented on this collection is wonderful: varied moods, textures, and sounds. Originality in the compositions, and striking arrangements of the big band and 60's pop material make for an exciting listen. I have owned this collection for about a month, listen to it frequently, and still feel like it is brand new every time I hear it.
My favorite portion of the collection is the Afro-Bossa album. That music made me stop what I was doing and just listen to the extraordinary jazz I was hearing. This is music that grabs your attention and makes you listen. A lot of people consider jazz music "inaccessible" or elevator music. One listen to Afro-Bossa would blow away both those myths. The music evokes scenes and emotions which few other pieces have done for me. The hard-swinging of tunes like Purple Gazelle are irresistible. Same for Harlem. My family, who does not appreciate jazz, even enjoyed listening to the Ellington '65 and '66 recordings of pop tunes.
I consider this a treasure, and no collection of any serious Ellington fan would be complete without it. The genius of the Duke and the soul of his men shines through on (almost) every tune. A thoroughly enjoyable set! As a previous reviewer said, grit your teeth and spend the money. You will be grateful you did.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
More Gems From a Giant Unearthed� 18 April 2000
By YUSUF LAMONT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Duke Elligton's place among the firmament of popular (meaning accessible and widely enjoyed in this instance) music's 20th century's composers is as solid as bedrock. (Gershwin, Lennon and McCartney, Porter, Chuck Berry being among the select others.) His musical ouevure ranges farther and wider than most of them and his many landmark recordings-live and otherwise are signposts dotting the landscape of not just American but World music. With that being the case...why is the Duke's Post-Newport '56-Renaissance output on Reprise so often overlooked? The only logical reason is because of his sheer productivity; some area of his work would almost have to be overlooked. Listening to this compilation of his complete work for the label however, you wonder why the overlooked period is this one. The music contained here is some of his most adventurous...pre-'56 or post '56. He recontextualizes big-band classics of his own and others with bright reinterpretations on "Recollections of The Big Band Era" and "Will the Big Bands Ever Come Back" and then goes to the sensuous, lilting and powerful rhythms of Jazz's dark roots with the lush "Afro-Bossa" album. For me however, the selections which make the 5-disc collection more than worthwhile are those from the very rare album from 1963, "The Symphonic Ellington". The title speaks for itself; the Ellington Orchestra with it's powerful sense of swing and world-class musicianship mated with the talents of the world's greatest symphonic and operatic orchestras who play with unbridled sizzle under the Ellington baton. The sheer musicality of Ellington's music as well as his the obvious enthusiasm of the players does what you ultimately want great music to do; namely shatter the artificial boundaries of genre and give the listener utter enjoyment. The standout tracks, "Night Creature-Movements 1-3" (An inspiration for Stevie Wonder's unsung masterpicees on "Secret Life of Plants"?), "La Scala, She Too Pretty To Be Blue" (A sweeping blues/waltz that begs to be danced to with someone you love), and the almost-talking melodies in the wonderful "Harlem" are a testament to the composer's prodigious gifts. How did he get his group to play so smoothly, so seamlessly within classical confines? How did he get the technically brilliant but improvisationally staid orchestras to sound as loose and fun as they do? Hearing this album, you'll wonder why no one else did this as well and then you'll realize the reason is because no one else could. Horns honk, Woodwinds wail, and Strings sing as the ingredients mix into a vibrant soufflé of sonic riches. The collection is a must-have for collectors, (the "Symphonic Ellington" disc is available here only after a brief and inferiorly mastered reissue in `91 from another label. The music itself can be heard covered on a rather nice disc by the Civica Jazz Ensemble from last year) but it is ultimately a must-have for music lovers in general. Your speakers will never be happier once they've played these discs. Chances are, you'll be happier as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bask in it 24 Feb. 2012
By Udeen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Ellington recorded for the Reprise label between November 1962 and April 1965 (and once more in 1967 for the 'Francis A & Edward K' album). A quick perusal of the nine Reprisal albums that make up this set is hardly very enticing: two efforts that yearn for the time when big bands roamed the Earth ('Will The Big Bands Ever Come Back?' and 'Recollections Of The Big Band Era'); two made up of interpretations of hackneyed pop tunes of the day ('Ellington '65' and 'Ellington '66'); symphonic recordings shoe-horned into tours with an absurd lack of rehearsal time ('The Symphonic Ellington'); a cover of a Julie Andrews musical ('Mary Poppins'); a live album that is not a live album ('Concert In The Virgin Islands'); much scraping and plucking ('Duke Ellington's Jazz Violin Session'); and an album of 12 songs, half of which are rehashes (Afro-Bossa). No, this is not Ellington at his peak, but dismissing this body of work would deprive the listener of a treasure trove of great Ellingtonia.

This Warner/Rhino release has the distinction of being a shrunken version of the impeccable Mosaic Records set of the same name. The Penguin Guide to Jazz reassures us that "... mastering, artwork, sleeve-notes, it's all the same." 'Sleeve notes' does not do justice to the excellent 64 page booklet which includes a full discography and an essay written by Mark Tucker. One note of caution: my copy is labelled 'Spiegel Edition', and the text is in German. I bought the Mosaic booklet. That's how I can assure you that the contents are identical. Tucker's essay includes helpful descriptions of individual songs. I have just listened to the whole of 'Afro-Bossa' in the light of these descriptions, and new layers have been revealed to me.

There are comparatively few Ellington originals here, which might be seen as a drawback, but for me this provides one of the points of interest of the collection. By comparing originals with the Ellington version, we get some startling examples of the workings of the Ellington/Strayhorn partnership. I think that it is important to mention Billy Strayhorn here, because Tucker argues strongly for the fact that he played a more active role in arranging for the Ellington Orchestra than I had previously imagined. I have a particular fondness for a number of the recordings that make up 'Will The Big Bands Ever Come Back?' and 'Recollections Of The Big Band Era'. From the framework of other people's songs, Ellington and Strayhorn conjure textures that are unique.

Clearly 'Afro-Bossa' is the outstanding album in the collection, and a masterclass in the arranger's art. It is interesting, then, to read Ray Nance's comments as reported by Stanley Dance:

"Take that Afro-Bossa album. Instead of letting us work on the arrangements for two or three weeks, he sprang them on us right away. When we tried out new material at dances or on the job, it paid off."

It may sound like heresy, but I'm going to disagree with Nance. I think that the fact that Ellington sprang ideas on his players was an inspired decision. Yes, there are risks involved, but this approach avoids ideas becoming stale and encourages members of the orchestra to think on their feet, or pay the consequences. I've got a live recording of the song 'Afro-Bossa' played at the Champs Elysees Theatre in January 1965, a full two years on. It's fine, but I prefer the studio version.

You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. For all of the excellence of the arrangements and the playing, I cannot see past some of the bizarre selections that make up 'Ellington '65' and 'Ellington '66'. 'Blowin' In The Wind' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'? Duke, you cannot be serious.

Don't let that one gripe put you off. From the opening bars of 'Christopher Columbus' the opulence of the sound engulfs you. I reckon you could do worse than to take the advice of Richard Cook and Brian Morton from The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD: Seventh Edition (Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings): sit back and bask in it!

FOOTNOTE:
I'm not clear whether potential buyers on Amazon.com are viewing the Mosaic or the Warner/Rhino version. The latter is available at far more reasonable prices on Amazon.co.uk. Since only two of the 101 recordings in this set are not on the above named albums, if you are prepared to forego the booklet and you are on a budget, it makes far more sense to buy these:

Duke Ellington 'Original Album Series': (available on Amazon.co.uk), comprising 'Will The Big Bands Ever Come Back', 'Jazz Violin Session', 'Mary Poppins', 'Ellington '65' and 'Ellington '66';
Afro Bossa / Concert in Virgin Islands;
The Symphonic Ellington [Collectables]; and
Recollections.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A long forgotten episode in Duke's career 18 Feb. 2000
By "dennis@sbg.at" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
After the Capitol box Mosaic has made recordings by Duke available again, which have been ignored by many critics. This is the Ellington orchestra at its most playful,particularly the sessions with non-Dukish material show how different Duke's band was. Take the rather humble songs of "Mary Poppins" and listen how they are rendered here.It's a study in close-up revealing some secrets of the famous Ellington sound.Then listen to the symphonic recordings and how Duke makes the non-Syncopians swing!Some of the highlights of the big-band-remembering sessions are Johnny Hodges' solo in "Smoke Rings", the trumpets in "Ciribiribin", the Billy Strayhorn arrangement of "Chant of the Weed" and many others.For me,the best album is "Afro Bossa",which alone would deserve 5 stars. The "Virgin Island Suite" is no masterpiece,but a real discovery for the Ellington-fan, for it's finally available on CD. This collection is the ideal entrance to the world
of Ellingtonia for "foreigners".You can listen to them and simply enjoy, without the pressure that a masterwork of historic dimensions so often burdens on us.By the way,the sound is superior.
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