Various Artists

The Stereophonic Sound of Duke Ellington

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The odd LP The Stereophonic Sound of Duke Ellington claims to be stereo recordings by members of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, though no claim is made that it is actually the Ellington band. The only two Ellington veterans recognizable are Ben Webster, who reprises his famous tenor sax feature "Cotton Tail," and valve trombonist Juan Tizol, featured in "Sophisticated Lady." The musicians on these 1960 studio sessions, originally made for Crown and reissued by Bright Orange sometime after Johnny Hodges' death in 1970, include several well-known players: Jimmy Rowles, Conte Candoli, Red Callender or Curtis Counce on bass, and drummer Mel Lewis. It's just that the arrangements by director Maxwell Davis (who isn't even mentioned anywhere on the record jacket) are rather bland in comparison to Ellington's and the solos and ensembles are rather bland for the most part. It is surprising to hear blues singer B.B. King on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and since Ellington's tastes in male vocalists were a bit peculiar at times, he does justice to the song. This LP is worth at most a couple of dollars if found in excellent shape, but serious Ellington fans should save their money for the real thing.