Duke Ellington

The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958

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While the 1950s were hardly an era where big bands flourished, there were a few exceptions. The Duke Ellington Orchestra is perhaps the best example. While smaller bands with vocalists, or those playing bebop, cool jazz, and later, hard bop, were jazz's new "mainstream" reality, Ellington seized on the arrival of the LP record both to gamble with his catalog of what had become standards in the jazz book, and forge ahead with new creative ideas made possible by the extended playing time afforded by the new format over the three-minutes-and-change limitations of the 78 rpm disc. The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958, showcases in grand style several phases in the Ellington Orchestra's development. There are extended versions of hits, new suites, high concepts, and new collaborations. The albums presented in this nine-disc box are Masterpieces, Ellington Uptown, Blue Rose (with Rosemary Clooney), A Drum Is a Woman, Such Sweet Thunder (a commission from the Stratford Festival), Ellington Indigos, Black Brown and Beige with Mahalia Jackson, Bal Masque, and Cosmic Scene. The box is compact and handsome; each album is housed in individual LP-styled sleeves with original artwork. The booklet contains complete discographical track annotation and personnel information, as well as a liner essay by Loren Schoenberg, the artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. A cautionary note: the artwork included depicts the track listings of the LPs when they were released; therefore it does not take into account the bonus material Legacy added when remastering these recordings. But all of these discs are the remastered versions and all bonus material is included in the set. Despite the fact that some of these albums -- especially Masterpieces and Uptown, from the early part of the decade -- were initially derided by some critics because of the absence of saxophonist Johnny Hodges, history has proven those analyses incorrect as these sides are now regarded as classics. In the 21st century, these recordings offer a portrait of a band rising to the occasion on each album. Ellington and Billy Strayhorn pushed at the creative boundaries for big bands with ambition and aplomb, creating a new and visionary form of jazz in the process

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:55
2 2:59
3 2:30
4 4:35
5 2:39
6 2:50
7 4:12
8 2:23
9 3:12
10 3:09
11 6:30
12 3:04
13 2:40

Track Listing - Disc 5

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:22
2 2:59
3 1:23
4 3:40
5 2:22
6 3:05
7 3:09
8 2:23
9 4:00
10 3:26
11 4:19
12 1:49
13 4:16
14 1:49
15 2:58
16 2:35
17 2:44
18 4:12
19 2:59
20 3:51
21 6:22
22 8:55

Track Listing - Disc 7

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 8:16
2 6:13
3 6:25
4 7:58
5 3:46
6 3:08
7 2:05
8 2:41
9 6:48
10 6:37
11 3:08
12 2:23
13 5:50
14 1:59
15 0:06
16 5:53
blue highlight denotes track pick