Duke Ellington

Take the 'A' Train/Duke Ellington: All Time Favorites

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There are more low-budget Duke Ellington collections in existence than the unaided human brain can possibly comprehend. This 1996 Boxsets Duke Ellington Collection could easily get lost in the shuffle, and if it did something better would float to the surface and fill the gap at once. The 20 tracks here, vaguely traceable to the late '40s, the '50s, and the '60s, form a composite portrait of the Duke that might suffice if there were positively no other Ellington recordings anywhere within reach -- like if you were holed up in Antarctica and this was your only option. Under those circumstances its value would suddenly seem to increase, just as stale fortune cookies would likely seem yummy if you hadn't eaten anything for 18 hours. Yet in a world so richly stocked with well-documented, intelligently presented Ellington albums, this thing seems like a cheap lunge in the general direction of an artist who deserves to be honored the way humanity tries to revere its most exceptional individuals.

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