Duke Ellington

Anthology 1928-1954

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AllMusic Review by

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was a gifted composer, a brilliant bandleader, and a skilled pianist who, like Fats Waller, learned his craft from James P. Johnson, Luckey Roberts, and Willie "The Lion" Smith. In 2007 the French Cabu label did the world a favor by releasing a double-disc anthology containing some of Duke Ellington's all-time greatest piano performances, proceeding somewhat chronologically from October 1928 to April 1954. In addition to several early piano solos, this exciting collection includes a wonderful reinterpretation of "Soda Fountain Rag," Ellington's earliest published composition, dating from 1937. Here too are creative collaborations with bassists Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, and Junior Raglin; several marvelous interactions with Billy Strayhorn; and all but one of the tracks from Duke's Piano Reflections album, recorded for Capitol in 1953. As is the case with most everything issued by Cabu, the illustration on the cover detracts rather than enhances. Duke Ellington was a handsome gentleman whose distinctive physiognomy bore evidence of years spent leading the world's greatest jazz orchestra, on and off the road as well as in the recording studio. Although Cabu's caricaturist came up with a better likeness than usual, that's not saying much. This is sloppy work -- Duke deserved better. It is only a minor flaw in an outstanding compilation, without a doubt one of the best in the entire Cabu catalog.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:04
2 2:51
3 2:51
4 3:08
5 3:06
6 1:49
7 2:36
8 2:29
9 3:05
10
3:20
11 3:31
12 2:42
13 2:46
14 4:49
15 2:22
16
3:39
17 2:04
18 12:16
19 2:57
20 2:57
21 3:15

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:38
2 3:57
3 2:48
4
3:06
5 1:56
6 3:35
7 3:21
8 3:04
9 2:31
10 2:56
11 3:08
12 2:15
13 2:32
14 2:34
15 2:18
16
3:10
17
3:10
18 4:18
19 3:05
20 3:03
21 3:04
22 3:06
23 3:11
24 2:31
blue highlight denotes track pick