Duke Ellington

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Duke Ellington never recorded for Blue Note, but his sessions for Capitol, United Artists and Solid State are all owned (along with Blue Note) by EMI, making this single-CD sampler possible. On this hodgepodge (and almost random) collection, Duke's orchestra is heard during 1953-54 and at his 70th birthday concert in 1969. In addition, Ellington appears on two trio numbers with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach and plays "Happy Reunion" in 1971 with tenorman Paul Gonsalves in a quartet. Although there are some good performances included (1969's "Take the 'A' Train" is superb), there is a great deal missing, most notably 1954's "Flying Home" and Cat Anderson's miraculous solo on 1969's "Satin Doll"; instead one gets the 1953 hit version, which is remarkably dull. Otherwise, the music on this odd set is fine, but far from essential.

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