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on 18 August 2004
I know its tempting for any fan to say everything their favorite artist does is great...BUT..this really does contain some unique and special Ellington. In particular we get to hear Jimmy Hamilton on tenor (are rare treat) to great effect in the opening number 'Three J's blues'. It contains many other interseting tracks too, a kind of Ellington you dont hear too much, things like 'sweet and pungent' and all those other great blues. Harry Carney on 'Mellow tone' too.
The highlight for me has to be the bonus tracks - especially 'Sentimental Lady' and 'Brown penny'. If you are a fan of Johnny Hodges then these two tracks are reason enough to buy this CD. They really are Hodges at his very best.
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on 22 May 2009
This was the album that convinced me of Duke Ellington's genius, and I can't understand why it isn't more highly rated. This is the classic Ellington line-up recording at the end of a long tour, all the arrangements are spot-on, the playing is as tight as a drum, and the choice of material is excellent. Also, although some earlier (compilation) albums can seem a bit disjointed, there is a continuity about this one that makes it work as a complete album, rather than a collection of sessions. There are no vocals either (which often sound very dated from this era). The only problem I have with it is the 'bonus tracks'. These didn't make it onto the original for a reason, and add nothing here. Still, since they come at the end, rather than being forced into the album itself, you don't have to listen to them if it's the original album that you want. Overall though, this is the recording to convince your friends that they're missing out on this stuff - elegant, bluesy, wonderfully infectious jazz.
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Recorded and released in 1959, right in the middle of what I consider to be the Duke's golden period, this is a classy and classic album. Blues is the theme, and every shade of blue is used to paint this musical picture. The Duke conjures up sweeping and complex musical textures that take you on a journey into space, and gently lets you back down to earth. It's not just the Duke, the whole of the orchestra, meshing together beautifully, give their all, and the various soloists, including Harry Carney, Ray Nance, and Jimmy Hamilton, work real wonders. This album has a feeling of intelligence, elegance and swing.

This Columbia release of this classic swinging album a pretty decent affair. The sound has been nicely remastered, and comes through really clearly, giving each musician a clear voice. There is a booklet with the original liner notes, and a really interesting essay. There are some bonus tracks, alternate takes and cuts that never made it to the original album, which add to the album. This is a great release in all departments, five stars with no hesitation.
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on 22 January 2013
I thought I knew most of the Duke's famous albums but this one was new to me and it really is one of his best with the orchestra in tip top form and some great work from the soloists and some wonderful use of the plunger by members from the brass section of the band.
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on 1 March 2016
A brilliant album and well worth adding to my vinyl collection. This is Duke Ellington at his best.
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on 13 June 2011
Beat this if you can. Fantastic CD. Great quality recordings and for so little money make it a must have in any Jazz collection.
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