Duke Ellington

The Great Chicago Concerts

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The 1946 Duke Ellington Orchestra is heard in superior form throughout this highly recommended set. Split between a pair of separate concerts that took place in Chicago, this two-CD release of mostly previously unissued material features such top soloists as trumpeters Taft Jordan, Cat Anderson, Harold "Shorty" Baker and Ray Nance, trombonist Lawrence Brown, altoist Johnny Hodges, clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, Al Sears on tenor, baritonist Harry Carney and the pianist/leader. Four selections from the later concert have the great guitarist Django Reinhardt as a special guest but, although he plays well, there is virtually no interaction with the band. In addition to fresh versions of many of Ellington's standards and then-current arrangements, this two-fer has a lengthy excerpt from "Black, Brown & Beige," Ellington's three-part "Tonal Group" and the rarely heard "Deep South Suite."

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