Probably the best example of the Mercer Ellington Orchestra of the 1980s, this LP has new and revised versions of nine vintage Duke Ellington compositions/arrangements, all dating before 1935. Whether it be 1927's "Hot and Bothered," the great train re-creation "Daybreak Express," "East St. Louis Toodle-oo" (Ellington's theme before "Take the 'A' Train") or "Ring Dem Bells," this is a spirited set. There were few of Duke's alumni in Mercer's band (other than trumpeter Barrie Lee Hall, trombonists Art Baron and Chuck Connors and altoist Geezil Minerve) but the many soloists bring back the spirit of Duke's music, particularly Barry Lee Hall (a fine successor to Bubber Miley, Cootie Williams and Ray Nance). Unfortunately this worthy LP has yet to be reissued on CD.
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