Duke Ellington

The Works of Duke, Vols. 16-20

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The fourth of five mammoth box sets documenting Duke Ellington's Victor recordings (including all alternate takes), this one has five LPs. Small group sessions by Rex Stewart, Johnny Hodges and Barney Bigard alternate with full-band classics (including two versions of "Chelsea Bridge" and the original renditions of "Perdido" and "C Jam Blues") during the first half of this set. The remainder traces Ellington's activity in the war years (including his four-part studio version of "Black, Brown and Beige") up to 1945 when he remade many of his hits from the previous decade, most successfully a hot vocal version of "It Don't Mean a Thing."