This CD of Duke Ellington at the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival is notable for several reasons. Following an overly long commentary by emcee and festival organizer Jimmy Lyons, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross introduce the main act with a quick version of the spiritual "Deep River," followed by "Take the 'A' Train." Ellington opens his set with a snappy and long interpretation of "Perdido," which sounds very different from his typical approach. He also previews two numbers from his reinterpretation of "The Nutcracker Suite," which was to be released the following week. "Suite Thursday" receives its premiere during this concert, as it was commissioned especially for this occasion. The sound is so intimate it feels like having a seat among the musicians, while the crowd is respectfully quiet. The historic nature of this concert easily overcomes the minor audio shortcomings, most of which are likely due to the age of the tapes by the time they were located and prepared for release.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden