Duke Ellington

70th Birthday Concert

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This double CD reissues a Solid State double LP that ranks as one of Duke Ellington's finest recordings of his final decade. The live performance gives listeners a good idea as to just how Duke's ensemble sounded in concert, and it serves as both a retrospective and a display of the strengths of Ellington's mighty band. Among the many highlights are definitive renditions of "Rockin' in Rhythm" and "Take the 'A' Train" (the latter has some wonderful Cootie Williams trumpet), a few features for altoist Johnny Hodges, a tenor battle on "In Triplicate," a few guest spots for organist Wild Bill Davis, and a 16-and-a-half-minute, nine-song medley that really works well. The most memorable chorus of all is an incredible high-note display by Cat Anderson on "Satin Doll" that is arguably his most miraculous solo ever; each note he hits is virtually impossible to play on the trumpet, and is in tune, too. This gem is essential for all serious jazz collections.

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