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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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The Real Gone Label release 100s of this type of collection at 'cheap as chips' prices.

There is minimal information and I have often found that it is only on the first CD of the set that actually lists the tracks as they play.

BUT the label really put all their efforts into remastering the sound and, let's face it, most fair people would agree that is what counts in the end?

The 4 Cds are housed in a double wide jewel case. and that is about it.

But At the time of writing Amazon have not given us the track listing so I checked it up and thought the information would be of interest to anyone that wants to know what's on the 4CDs.

The music is spread over the 4 CDs which I know drives some fans to distraction.
But price is king in these releases and we do get a lot for very little money

Thought the Track Listings would be of use.
These sets feature 2 albums on each CD but the CDs in these sets often fail to include the Albums titles.
But Byrdman has notified me that he was "pleasantly surprised that the booklet listed the musicians for each album, and that the inlay card listed the song titles under each album title." Just goes to show someone does care.

RK Hunter has made a very interesting comment that there is a 'hidden' album in this set.
Please read his comment and all wil be revealed.

But he track listing and split still may be of use so here it is.

Here is the list
CD 1:

Such Sweet Thunder (1957):
1 Such Sweet Thunder
2 Sonnet For Caesar
3 Sonnet To Hank Cinq
4 Lady Mac
5 Sonnet In Search of a Moor
6 The Telecasters
7 Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down)
8 Sonnet For Sister Katie
9 The Star Crossed Lovers
10 Madness In Great Ones
11 Half the Fun
12 Circle of Fourths
Black, Brown and Beige [feat. Mahalia Jackson] (1958):
13 Part 1
14 Part 2
15 Part 3 (aka Light)
16 Part 4 (aka Come Sunday)
17 Part 5 (aka Come Sunday)
18 Part 6 (aka 23rd Psalm)

CD 2:
At The Bal Masque (1958):
1 Alice Blue Gown
2 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
3 Got a Date With an Angel
4 Poor Butterfly
5 Satan Takes a Holiday
6 The Peanut Vender
7 Satin Doll
8 Lady In Red
9 Indian Love Call
10 The Donkey Serenade
11 Gypsy Love Song
12 Laugh, Clown Laugh
The Cosmic Scene (1958):
13 Avalon
14 Body and Soul
15 Bass-Ment
16 Early Autumn
17 Jones
18 Perdido
19 St Louis Blues
20 Spacemen
21 Midnight Sun
22 Take the a Train

CD 3:
Anatomy of a Murder (1959):
1 Main Theme/Anatomy of a Murder
2 Flirtbird
3 Way Early Subtone
4 Hero To Zero
5 Low Key Lightly
6 Happy Anatomy
7 Midnight Indigo
8 Almost Cried
9 Sunswept Sunday
10 Grace Valse
11 Happy Anatomy
12 Haupe
13 Upper and Outest
14 Anatomy of a Murder
Nutcracker Suite (1960):
15 Overture
16 Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Danceof the Reed Pipes)
17 Peanut Brittle Brigade
18 Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy)
19 Entr'acte
20 The Volga Vouty (Russian Dance)
21 Chinoiserie (Chinese Dance)
22 Dance of the Floreadones (Waltz of the Flowers)
23 Arabesque Cukie (Arabian Dance)

CD 4:
Piano in the Foreground (1961):
1 I Can't Get Started
2 Cong-Go
3 Body and Soul
4 Blues for Jerry
5 Fontainebleau Forest
6 Summertime
7 It's Bad to Be Forgotten
8 A Hundred Dreams Ago
9 So
10 Searching (Pleading for Love)
11 Springtime in Africa
Together Again [with Louis Armstrong] (1961):
12 Duke's Place
13 I'm Just a Lucky So and So
14 Cottontail
15 Mood Indigo
16 Do Nuthin' till You Hear From Me
17 The Beautiful American
18 Black and Tan Fantasy
19 Drop Me Off In Harlem
20 The Moochie
21 In a Mellow Tone
22. The Bear, The Fox and The Coney.
1313 comments| 65 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 January 2014
This set contains a selection of the Duke's albums from about 1957-1961. This was an uneven period for him - lots of excellent music but plenty of sets which are merely ordinary, or even downright bad. What you get here are four suites (Black, Brown & Beige, Such Sweet Thunder, The Nutcracker, Anatomy of a Murder), one live Big Band album (at the Bal Masque), a small group disc with horns (The Cosmic Scene), a collaboration with Louis Armstrong (also small group) and a trio record (Piano in the Foreground).

So first, the suites. Such Sweet Thunder is to me the best album on the set, and one of Duke's very best big band suites. The concept - a suite of music inspired by Shakespeare's plays - seems pretty bizairre, but this really is one of the Duke's best suites and contains some really atmospheric, brooding and beautiful music. Black, Brown & Beige is *almost* as good, but is hampered by the fact that it isn't complete (not because the makers of this set have omitted anything - this album version doesn't have the full suite as it was originally conceived) and it always feels more like an "excerpts from" than a whole coherent work, which is exactly what is.

I find less to recommend in the other two suites. Anatomy of a Murder seems to be quite popular but it's always seemed quite anonymous music to me, when compared with Ellington's best. The Nutcracker - well, this one is certainly entertaining. Throw it on at Christmas for an alternative seasonal soundtrack. I'm never quite sure whether this one was supposed to be a serious attempt or a bit of a laugh on Strayhorn/Ellingtons' parts. Personally, I like it, but find it pretty difficult to take it seriously and certainly wouldn't rate it up there with the better discs on this set.

I'll be honest - Louis Armstrong is an artist I can take or leave. I love his trumpet playing, but I tend not to like his choice of themes and his singing, iconic though it is, doesn't grab me. There's nothing particularly to fault with Together Again, his small group collaboration with Duke included here, but it just doesn't do it for me personally - Armstrong sings more than he plays, and by 1961 his playing had declined a little (though it would do so much more over the next few years). The Cosmic Scene, the other small-group-with-horns album here, features a mindblowingly good uptempo "Body & Soul", a feature for Tenor Saxophonist Paul Gonsalves (not that you'd know, as this set gives you nothing beyond a track-list of course) which is probably the greatest single track on this set and ranks up there with some of the very best interpretations of the tune - it's just a shame that the rest of the record is rather forgettable by comparison. Piano in the Foreground must be one of the most inappropriately named albums ever, as you'll not find a more restrained and reserved piano trio album this side of Ahmad Jamal: Duke never was really much of a pianist; his place in the Jazz canon was earned through his skill was as a bandleader, composer and arranger and it's often remarked that he put little effort into his occasional spotlight piano records. Again, nothing wrong with it, but not much to recommend either.

My least favourite of the albums included here is the live one, At the Bal Masque. It opens with "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?". Now, I know Jazz artists have often made much of slight material (e.g. Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"), but this isn't one of those occasions and the album as a whole is simply utterly forgettable.

So, on balance, while there's some very good stuff here, it's probably not overall a great set to go for by the standards of these 8-album sets - there's too much average stuff in among the good stuff to make it a high priortity purchase.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 1 November 2012
Edward 'Duke' Ellington 29/4/89-24/5/74. His last words were, " Music is how I lived and how I will be remembered". Never truer words spoken. I don't really have to say much more except to review this 8 album offering on 4CDs at another ridiculous price. I will not duplicate the tracks as Mr Glenn Cook has done this. This may add to the personnel and appeal.

1) SUCH SWEET THUNDER: 7/8/56. A major work. Duke was a Shakespeare fan as was Billy Strayhorn. The title comes from 'Midsummer Night's Dream' inspired by Othello's story to Desdemona. Cat Anderson(t),Ray Nance(t)Clarke Terry(t) Willie Cook(t),Joe Sanders(tbn), Britt Woodman(tbn),Quentin Jackson(tbn), Johnny Hodges, Russell Procope, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney (reeds), Jimmy wood (bs), Sam Woodyard(d), Ellington. 'Hanq Cinq' is a remarkable showcase for Woodman. 'Sister Kate' is a sad moving tale. 'Up and Down' is a vehicle for Clarke Terry. A wonderful album.

2)BLACK BROWN AND BEIGE: Feb 1958. Originally when released personnel and dates were confusing. Cat Anderson(t),Ray Nance(t,vn), Quentin Jackson(tb), Britt Woodman(tb),Johnn Sanders(tb,v-tb), Bill Graham (as,ts), Russell Procope(as,cl),Jimmy Hamilton(cl,ts), Paul Gonsalves(ts),Harry Carney(bs,cl),Jimmy Woode(b), Sam Woodyard(d),Mahalia Jackson(v),Ellington. Numbered in parts. 'Work Song' and 'Come Sunday' are probably the standout tracks with Woodyard, Carney and Jackson working in unison. Mahalia Jackson is singing gospel accompanied by Ellington. (Bessie Smith may have given more?)

3) AT THE BAL MASQUE: (March/April 1958). Same personnel as above with Betty Glammann(harp), Terry Snyder(percussion), Candido Carmero (bongo), Margeret Tynes, Joyce Sherrill, Ozzie Bailey (choir). Apparently a fantasy of Ellington's rooms. An odd record with Ellingtonian satire. Having said that, the band are superb. Hodges is exemplary on 'Alice Blue Gown' and 'Gypsy Love Song'. Likewise, Jackson on 'Donkey Serenade' and Nance on 'Peanut Butter'. Gonsalves demonstrates his brilliance on 'Oh Poor Butterfly'. Humorous and excellent.

4)THE COSMIC SCENE: April 2/3 1958: Clarke Terry, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Woode, Sam Woodyard, Ellington.
Reputedly many Jimmy Hamilton arrangements. 'Perdido', Body and Soul', 'Early Autumn'(where is Getz?),'Bass-ment',(a take on 'Discontented Blues'), add up to a satisfying compilation.

5)ANATOMY OF A MURDER: May/June 1959: Personel consistent. Add Gerald Wilson(t), Billy Strayhorn(p), Booty Wood(tb). Baker(t) and Woodyard are not present. Ellington's score for Otto Preminger's film. Not a favourite of mine, but for completists. The title is something out of a Hitchcock thriller with the bonus of the band particularly Gonsalves's solo (Rock and rolling).Impeccably played with a bonus of swing and more gentle songs.

6)NUTCRACKER SUITE: May/June 1960. LA. Add Willie Cook(t), Andres Maringuito(t),Eddie Mullins(t), Jean Tizel(v-tb), Lawrwnce Brown(tb),Aeron Bell(b) as replacement/additional personel. Ellington puts his mark on arrangements that add to tempo, mood and colour. Never short of ideas, he drives the band through 'Overture' with Ray Nance outstanding. 'Entr'acte' likewise with Gonsalves, Carney prominent. 'Sugar Rum Cherry' receives a more mellow Gonsalves. Another wonderful Ellington band.

7)PIANO IN THE FOREGROUND: 1/3/61. Aeron Bell(b),Sam Woodyard(d),Ellington. Recorded the year after the big band 'Piano in the Background'. Very much an Ellington show with a mastery of the blues. 'So', 'Blues For Jerry' and a collection of standards. He is more assertive on 'Summertime', apparently a reaction to events in the Congo at the time. 'Springtime In Africa' is unlike Ellington's usual compositions. A real treat to hear him on his instrument with just bass and drum accompaniment.

8)TOGETHER AGAIN: April 3/4 1961 NY: This is fine dialogue between two legends of music. Louis Armstrong is in great form backed by Ellington's touch on the piano. 'Mooche', 'Black and Tan' and 'Im In the Mood' are truly great tracks.

Another wonderful compilation. If you don't have them they will give many hours of pleasure. Pricewise nonsensical. These are truly classic. A must for any fan or collector. Sound good. Finally, Ellington is quoted as saying "playing bop is like scrabble with all the vowels missing". No doubt tongue in cheek.
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on 17 June 2013
I heard Gordon Vernick's podcast on the Ellington version of "The Nutcracker" and really enjoyed it. When I was looking to buy that particular album I noticed for very little extra money I could buy this set of albums. I'm new to Ellington and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. I'm primarily a classical music buff and I confess I never expected this music to be so well crafted and be played with such virtuoso performances - the sax and clarinet playing is awesome. Far from being cheesy, lounge bar music - as my prejudice suggested - this turns out be sophisticated and at times edgy music. I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the recorded sound as, if I'm not mistaken, these albums are from the late 1950s. This was a spontaneous purchase that has brought me great delight.
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on 28 August 2014
I am still working my way through these albums but what I have heard has so far been really good. I have not been a big band fan but this set of albums and a similar set by Count Basie are changing my mind. Good music.
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on 25 February 2013
Great value and an important record of one of the great bands of all time.
Only slightly disappointed as one of the discs is mis named its not "Duke Ellington and the spacemen" which I once had the LP of but something else.
If you are new to Ellington or even a seasoned fan this is an invaluable collection.
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on 25 February 2013
I've never had an Elllington CD before buying this one. I had a vague image of him as a big-band leader of inconsequential background music (anyone who knows jazz will already realize how new I am to jazz and how little I know) and was very pleasantly surprised by how deeply musical and inventive he is. I didn't like everything (would have been impossible with 8 albums), but this a wonderful introduction to his music, at a remarkable price.
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on 27 December 2012
Good recordings, great price, a must for new jazz fans and old alike. Minimal sleeve notes but all the track listings seem to be there but if you have trouble please refer to other reviews of this "must-have" set.
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on 26 November 2013
I like this set, and for this price you get so much. I myself like the Armstrong album the most.
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on 9 January 2014
Bought as a present and were well received. Played and played since having them. Would recommend these to any Ellington fans. The packaging was good and arrived in really good time.
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