This volume in Legacy's Jazz Moods series reflects the Duke Ellington band during its first three decades. Being one of the "hot" titles, the selections here are all uptempo, and they range from the very earliest days of the great bandleader and composer's career in 1927 into the war year of 1941. All of the tracks here are Ellington classics and were recorded many times, but these versions, in almost all cases, are the originals. There's the original recording of "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" with vocalist Ivie Anderson fronting the band (the other vocalist on these 1932 sessions was some guy named Bing Crosby). "Cotton Tail," from 1940, features a burning saxophone solo by the great Ben Webster. Also included is the 1928 version of "The Mooche" that many viewers heard in Ken Burns Jazz with the trademark blues growl by Baby Cox. There's a beautiful trumpet solo by Juan Tizol in the 1937 recording of "Caravan," and 11 other Ellington "hot" classics here. While there's nothing revelatory on this disc, the sound is more than worthy and it's nice having so many originals from such a fertile period in one place.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek