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Alice Babs & Duke Ellington: Serenade to Sweden (Real Gone)

Ellington fans will recognize Alice Babs as the principal vocalist on his late-career landmark, 1968’s Second Sacred Concert. But there was another Ellington-Babs collaboration five years earlier, a sterling Paris session that resulted in Serenade to Sweden, widely considered the rarest album in the Ellington catalog, never reissued until now. Age 39 at the time, … Read More “Alice Babs & Duke Ellington: Serenade to Sweden (Real Gone)”

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Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Conny Plank Session

Unreleased Ellington studio sessions have a paucity to match the plentitude of his vault live releases, so this crafty little quickie-just 29 minutes-is something of a revelation. The unlikely setup: Duke in Cologne in 1970 to record for synth-maven engineer Conny Plank, a man accustomed to working with Kraftwerk rather than swing titans. But it’s … Read More “Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Conny Plank Session”

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Duke Ellington: The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958

In gathering from a limited time frame a selection of what can be regarded in one way or another as concept albums, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958 enjoyably demonstrates how context can influence the way we hear things. Ranging from ambitious themed projects to extended remakes of early classics, this nine-disc collection emphasizes … Read More “Duke Ellington: The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958”

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Duke Ellington: The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra

Mosaic isn’t exactly mucking around on this gargantuan 11-disc set that essentially distills the first grand age of Ellingtonia into the contents of one box set. There would, of course, be other ages of comparable majesty, but this set represents the first full ripening of Ellington’s highly idiosyncratic and highly attuned big-band compositional style. In … Read More “Duke Ellington: The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra”

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John Pizzarelli: Rockin’ in Rhythm: A Duke Ellington Tribute

Perhaps it’s because the album’s strengths are so explicit that its weaknesses seem equally pronounced. Let’s start with the pluses. First, there’s the presence of the Swing Seven horns, arranged by Don Sebesky on seven tracks, including a sizzling “C Jam Blues” and a freewheeling combo of “Cottontail” and “Rockin’ in Rhythm.” Then there’s an … Read More “John Pizzarelli: Rockin’ in Rhythm: A Duke Ellington Tribute”

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