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Jazz - Released April 22, 1968 | RCA - Legacy

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Jazz - Released November 4, 2016 | RCA - Legacy

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Pop - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn combined old and new compositions to create the album Afro-Bossa, a suite consisting of a dozen pieces that was never performed in its entirety in concert, though several of the works remained in the band's repertoire. The title cut is a new work, though the "Bossa" does not refer to Brazilian music; instead, it is a mix of African and Latin influences that slowly builds with insistent percussion to a blazing finale of brass and reeds. "Purple Gazelle" (which was also recorded as "Angelica" in Ellington's small group session with John Coltrane, was described by the pianist as a "ragtime cha-cha." Cootie Williams (on muted trumpet), Ray Nance, Paul Gonsalves, and the composer are all featured soloists. Ellington returns to the jungle sound with the exotic "Moonbow," showcasing a trio of dissonant clarinets and Nance's effective plunger mute work on trumpet, along with the matchless altoist Johnny Hodges. Strayhorn's "Tigress" puts the spotlight on Gonsalves, Williams, and clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton in an infectious Latin setting. "Pyramid" dates from 1938, written by Ellington with Juan Tizol, but it is trombonist Lawrence Brown who takes over Tizol's role, along with contributions by baritonist Harry Carney and Williams. This is easily one of Duke Ellington's essential studio recordings of the 1960s, though it isn't as widely recognized as it ought to be. ~ Ken Dryden

Jazz - Released January 31, 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Jazz - Released January 31, 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Concord Records, Inc.

Duke Ellington always absorbed influences from the music he heard as he toured the world, and The Latin American Suite is no exception. Written during his first tour of Central and South America in 1968, Ellington premiered several of the pieces during concerts in the Southern hemisphere, though he didn't record it until returning to the U.S., with one piece ("Tina") being recorded separately over a year after the other tracks. "Oclupaca" is an exotic opener showcasing Paul Gonsalves' robust tenor, while Ellington gets in an Oriental kick during his driving blues "Chico Cuadradino" (jointly written with his son Mercer). Ellington is in a jaunty mood in his bossa nova "Eque," which spotlights both Johnny Hodges and Gonsalves. The infectious "Latin American Sunshine" is buoyed by Harry Carney's sonorous baritone sax and trombonist Lawrence Brown's solo. It's a shame that Ellington chose not to keep any of these originals in his repertoire once work was completed on this album. ~ Ken Dryden
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released May 25, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | Concord Records, Inc.

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." ~ Scott Yanow
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Pop - Released February 7, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Although in his mid-60s, Duke Ellington proves on this program of mostly new music that he never declined nor lost his creativity. Four of the pieces comprise "The Virgin Islands Suite," and there are new versions of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be" and "Chelsea Bridge," and also a variety of miniature classics. In 1965 the Ellington orchestra had 11 very distinctive soloists; eight are heard from during this memorable set. ~ Scott Yanow

Jazz - Released January 24, 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Jazz - Released December 20, 1940 | Kent Music Group Ltd

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Jazz - Released March 4, 2008 | Bhm Productions

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Jazz - Released December 2, 2016 | RCA - Legacy

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Jazz - Released June 1, 1967 | RCA Victor - Legacy

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1979 | Concord Records, Inc.

This LP is primarily for Duke Ellington completists and scholars. Some of the performances are run-throughs of works that would soon be discarded or rewritten while others are true obscurities. Best is trumpeter Cootie Williams' feature on "Love Is Just Around the Corner" and a jam on "Blem." There are also several spots for organist Wild Bill Davis and such underfeatured Ellingtonians as trumpeter Money Johnson, Geezil Minerve (on piccolo), trombonist Malcolm Taylor, and trumpeter Fred Stone. But nothing all that essential or historic occurs and there are over 100 currently available Duke Ellington recordings that one would recommend first. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Concord Records, Inc.

It took until 1976 before these three extended works ("The Queen's Suite," "The Goutelas Suite" and "The Uwis Suite") were released and their obscurity is somewhat deserved. Although there are some good moments from Ellington's orchestras of 1959 and 1971-72, few of the themes (outside of "The Single Petal of a Rose" from "The Queen's Suite") are all that memorable. But even lesser Ellington is of great interest and veteran collectors may want to pick this up. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | GRP Records

Digital Duke is a collection of digitally mixed and mastered compositions written by and usually associated with Duke Ellington. Mercer Ellington, the younger half of the father-and-son team, conducts the Duke Ellington Orchestra complete with former members of Duke's orchestra Louis Bellson, Chuck Connors, Clark Terry, Norris Turney, and Britt Woodman. Special guest performances by Branford Marsalis, Eddie Daniels, Roland Hanna, and Gerry Wiggins add to the excitement of the newly mastered collaborations. Produced by Michael Abene and Mercer Ellington, the three days spent at Clinton Recording Studio in New York City sets out to improve the relationship between the generations and their long-term appreciation of the swing era. Executive producers Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen decided to concentrate on Ellington pieces that became standards in the jazz repertory. Digitally updating the Duke's music, which was always defined by common musical threads, distinctive harmonies, unique piano playing, and unusual combinations of instruments, would require only the best musicians. The result is a timeless tribute to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The essence of traditional and contemporary concepts come together on "Cottontail." It showcases an extraordinary Branford Marsalis saxophone solo honed in the Ellington style. He satisfies listeners again, at just the right tempo, with his impeccable tenor saxophone on "Take the 'A' Train." The easy pace is exactly right, as Gerry Wiggins' piano intros the time-honored ode that soon became Duke's trademark. Eddie Daniels adds a new, velvet-like, clarinet solo to the timeless, three-horn favorite "Mood Indigo." Louis Bellson, who was Duke's drummer in the early '50s and again on many reunions, is in great form on "Perdido" and "In a Mellotone." Digital Duke is a very special project, thoughtfully executed by Mercer Ellington and company. ~ Paula Edelstein

Jazz - Released April 1, 2012 | Bluebell

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