Anyone who sees this recording by Duke Ellington will identify it immediately as a bootleg due to its cheap, one-sided paper cover and lack of an identifiable label. The impression given from its title is that the record is from a single performance; actually, it was taken from two or more live recordings made without Ellington's knowledge during an extended period in the spring and summer of 1968 when the pianist led an octet at the Rainbow Grill in New York City. There are several audible conversations going on as the composer opens a set with his reflective ballad "Meditation," which adds bassist Jeff Castleman. Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, and Cat Anderson (in a great muted solo on "Take the 'A' Train") who are featured throughout the remaining selections, including an unusually long "Satin Doll" and the extremely obscure "Contrapuntal Riposte," the latter which has yet to appear on any other release (commercial or bootleg). Forgettable vocals by Trish Turner (on the infrequently recorded "Me and You") and Tony Watkins (who joins her for "It Don't Mean a Thing") are the only musical letdowns, though the questionable condition of the piano also proves to be a bit frustrating. Because of the relative rarity of live octet recording by Duke Ellington, die-hard fans will want to track down this somewhat difficult to find bootleg.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden