Duke Ellington composed for his orchestra as a unit and for his most skilled improvisers as individuals. Beginning in 1934 and up until 1941, miniaturized editions of the Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded under the nominal leadership of four master musicians: trumpeter Cootie Williams & His Rug Cutters, cornetist Rex Stewart & His 52nd Street Stompers, clarinetist Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators, and saxophonist Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra. Each man shared the responsibilities of composing, arranging, and leading the band with Duke, who usually sat in at the piano. With few exceptions, the recordings suggested a distillation of the larger ensemble, with the combined advantages of artistic autonomy and cooperative collaboration. In 1955 and 1956, selected examples of small group swing played by these Ellington offshoot ...
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The Duke's Men 1955 The Duke's Men
 
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