Duke Ellington

Playlist: The Very Best of Duke Ellington

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As a pianist, composer, and bandleader, Duke Ellington was simply one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. Utterly American, he infused jazz with gospel emotions, the structural simplicity of the blues, and the epic reach of classical music to create a monumental body of work. This 14-track set can only touch the surface of that legacy, and it concentrates on two phases of Ellington's long career -- his late-'20s recordings when he had his band working at New York’s Cotton Club (“Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Creole Love Call”) and his later film and television work in the late '40s and early '50s (“The Asphalt Jungle Theme”). It makes for a somewhat sideways, skewed look at Ellington, but it still features excellent tracks and that it all flows together in spite of coming from two different eras is a measure of Ellington's timelessness.

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