Duke Ellington

The Great Ellington Units

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Beginning in the '30s, Duke Ellington started recording with small groups taken out of his orchestra under the leadership of his sidemen. These highly enjoyable recordings offered the musicians some variety and the chance to debut some new material. All but two of the small-group recordings cut for Victor during 1940-41 are included on this very enjoyable CD including such future Ellington-associated standards as "Day Dream," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," "Passion Flower" and "C Jam Blues." With altoist Johnny Hodges, cornetist Rex Stewart and clarinetist Barney Bigard acting as leaders (and bassist Jimmy Blanton inspiring the soloists), the music is consistently brilliant.

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