If Martians ever land here and ask "What is jazz?" play them this one! In the 1950s, when jazz was moving in several new directions, many of the star soloists of the great 'swing' orchestras were left somewhat out in the cold, even though many of them were not only playing better than they ever had, they were also being recorded with vastly improved technology. If proof were needed, here is one of those records. It will go down as a classic when future historians review the century's music -- along with its 'sister' recording "Back To Back," which you should also get. Ellington plays magnificently throughout these sides, and Hodges plays the greatest alto sax of all time -- absolutely inimitable, immediately recognizable, and with phrasing and structure to his solos that could be described as architectural wonders. Note the passionate phrasing in his blues solo on "Big Shoe". As for Ellington, listen to his solo on "Stompy Jones." One of his greatest, his chords seem to change color AS they ring out. Thelonious Monk later built on this technique. In "Stompy" DE's superb solo builds chorus after chorus as the unmistakably supportive drummer Jo Jones (arguably jazz's greatest drummer) pressures him with his left stick on the snare drum (like a rattle-snake) and with his changes from hi-hat to ride cymbals with his right -- absolute genius in drumming dynamics. The piece ends with a dazzling drive out by Harry Edison on trumpet. You gotta hear it. All this leaves me without having described tracks incuded from a different session that include Roy Eldrige and Ben Webster!! The key is that in that era, on this record and others like it, musicians listened to one another and contributed to what each was saying on the theory that 1+1 makes 3. Today's highly trained, technically muscle-bound musicians haven't an iota of the personality that make for the quality of jazz this recording has. Please consider this a recommendation!