The biggest change for the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the relatively brief period covered by this CD is that on "Little Posey," Jimmy Blanton became the band's new bassist, taking over for Billy Taylor. While Taylor was a fine supportive player, Blanton was the first great soloist on his instrument and an innovative player who was a decade ahead of his time. This CD in Classics' extensive Duke Ellington chronological series, as usual, has all of the master takes from both Ellington's big band and the small groups led by his sidemen (trumpeter Cootie Williams and altoist Johnny Hodges), but skips over the valuable alternate takes. Among the most memorable selections are the spirited "I'm Checkin' Out Go'ombye," "Black Beauty," "The Sergeant Was Shy," two versions of "Grievin'," "Little Posey," and "Tootin' Through the Roof" (which has a brief trumpet battle by Cootie Williams and Rex Stewart).
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow