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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpieces by Ellington, Duke Ellington - The most apt of album titles, 5 July 2010
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Masterpieces By Ellington (Audio CD)
In the late forties/early fifties, a revolution was taking place in recorded music. The new 33 1/3 album format was coming, with its higher recording fidelity and the opportunity to break from the 3 minute single. One man who grasped the new format and made the most of it was Duke Ellington.

In the `20s, `30s and `40s Ellington had defined the swing/jazz era with some of the most important and, even today, easily recognisable tunes. Through the '40s in live concerts he had been experimenting with jazz suites, extended performances and more inventive arrangements, but on record he was still limited to 3 minutes. Then came the 33 1/3 album, and the world changed for the better.

Here, for the first time, the Duke and his orchestra fully realise both their, and the format's full potential. Seizing the opportunity they recorded three old Duke standards (Mood Indigo, Sophisticated Lady and Solitude) and one new composition (Tattooed Bride). The three older tunes are no mere cover versions or reliving of old glories. They sound fresh, new, and bear little comparison to the original (but still excellent!) recordings.

Stretching out their creative muscles, the orchestra deliver four extended cuts, starting with the beautiful Mood Indigo. A catchy, delightful tune when originally recorded twenty years previously, this is now a 15 minute masterpiece. Masterpiece I say. It's the only word that does it justice. Rather than just one solo, as in the original, there is now room for a series of solos from different instruments, some strong ensemble playing, and a heartbreaking vocal. Nina Simone tried, and did well, but she had nothing on this rendition.

The same treatment is given to the two other rerecordings, the extended format allows for more solos, more complex interactions between various sections of the orchestra, more opportunity for everyone involved to shine. And more of the Duke's creativity.

And if things couldn't get better, there is the original Tattooed Bride, an inventive and complex workout for the whole orchestra.

This 2004 Columbia release fully does the album justice. The sound is excellent, it sounds like it was recorded yesterday, not 60 years ago. The separation is very good, and allows each individual musician to be heard fully. The sound is rich and well toned, and sounds like honey dripping from my speakers. There are 3 extra bonus tracks, recorded at around the same time, which really add to the album and continue the inventive tone.

A five star release of one of Ellington's (and ergo jazz's) most important albums.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have..., 19 May 2013
By 
os - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Masterpieces By Ellington (Audio CD)
For Ellington even his established pieces were works in progress. In this beautifully recorded relaxed outing from 1950 the Duke has taken a few concert favourites,extended and re-orchestrated them with added solo space for the many virtuosos in his band. From the very off, the quality of this project is clear. The lovely clarinet feature by Russell Procope on the album opener ,'Mood Indigo' sets us up nicely for some sumptuous ensemble work by the horns before languidly moving to wonderful vocal by the little known Yvonne Lanauze. It is all done with such ease and feeling, that is easy to forget the level of sophistication and technical accomplishment that Ellington and his crew routinely achieve.Throughout the album though, there are many such blissful moments to enjoy and savour,such that is impossible to take them all in at one go.

So, a reccomended album-great tunes, excellent sleeve notes and some added bonus tracks that are worthy of the appellation of 'bonus'. A must buy.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars big band fan, 22 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Masterpieces By Ellington (Audio CD)
Born in the early thirties I grew up with all the great bands
and singers. This is a great cd would recomend it for younger music fans
to start listening to lovely sounds
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Title says it all, 18 April 2013
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This review is from: Masterpieces By Ellington (Audio CD)
Great music arranged by a Master and played wonderfully well at a bargain price. Not much else to add just buy, play, enjoy!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a Masterpiece, 12 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Masterpieces By Ellington (Audio CD)
Great cd by the great man. A must for all real Ellington fans. Bought as a present and very well received.
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