The great Duke Ellington Orchestra was still intact and in its late prime at the time of this performance from 1968. With the death of Billy Strayhorn the year before, Ellington (perhaps sensing his own mortality) accelerated his writing activities, proving that even as he neared 70, he was still at his peak. Other than a Johnny Hodges medley and the theme ("Take the 'A' Train"), all of the music on this set was fairly new. Included are showcases for Cootie Williams, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves and Cat Anderson, an 11-minute "The Little Purple Flower," "Swamp Goo" (which gives Russell Procope a chance to play some New orleans-style clarinet) and a jazz version of Yale's famous "Boola, Boola."
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow