Count Basie / Duke Ellington

First Time! The Count Meets the Duke

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A battle of the bands? Not quite -- more like a mutual admiration society, with the orchestras of both jazz titans playing together. (The Duke is heard on the right side of your stereo/headphones, the Count on the left.) Ellington's elegance and unique voicings meet Basie's rollicking, blues-based Kansas City swing, and it works gloriously. There's no clutter, each band is focused, and they sound great together. This is not the thoughtful, reflective composer side of Ellington (listeners should check out Far East Suite or Black, Brown & Beige for that). The Duke and his band accentuate their swinging dance band side, while Basie and company have never sounded as suave and exotic as when playing Billy Strayhorn arrangements. Everyone has a good time, and that joy infuses this album from start to finish.

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