After starting off with a few valuable V-disc performances (including 13 minutes of the "Black, Brown and Beige" suite), this CD features some of Duke Ellington's studio recordings of April-May 1945. Although this particular band was not rated as high as their 1939-1942 counterpart, they still ranked near the top of their field. Among the gems are "The Kissing Bug," "Harlem Air Shaft," quite a few fine remakes (this version of "It Don't Mean a Thing" with singers Al Hibbler, Joya Sherrill, Kay Davis, and Marie Ellington is a classic), and a pair of unusual numbers. "Tonight I Shall Sleep" has trombonist Tommy Dorsey guesting with Duke Ellington's orchestra, while on "The Minor Goes Muggin'," Ellington sits in with Dorsey's band. Overall, there is a lot of rather interesting music to be heard on this CD from this underrated version of the Ellington big band.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow