Personnel includes: Duke Ellington (piano); Russell Procope, Norris Turney, Paul Gonsalves, Harold Ashby, Harry Carney, Buddy Pearson, Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Hamilton (reeds); Cootie Williams, Money Johnson, Al Rubin, Cat Anderson, Mercer Ellington, Eddie Preston, Jimmy Owens, Willie Cook, Fred Stone, Ray Nance, Clark Terry, Shorty Baker (trumpet); Malcolm Taylor, Booty Wood, Chuck Connors, Buster Cooper, Lawrence Brown, Julian Priester, Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson, John Sanders (trombone); Wild Bill Davis (organ); Joe Benjamin, Victor Gaskin, Paul Kondziela, Jimmy Woode (bass); Rufus Jones, Jimmy Johnson (drums).
Recorded between 1959 and 1971.
Digital remastering by Joe Tarantino (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California, 1991).
Though the Duke's "stay" on Pablo Records was 1969-1971 and not necessarily representative of his massive body of work, if you're smitten by the sounds of Duke Ellington, this set is worth having. The Duke loved to record, so much of the Pablo era consisted of re-workings of old favorites (here, "Sophisticated Lady") and longer, more extended suites. Unlike many survivors of the Big Band boom of the '30s and '40s, Ellington was not content to ride on past glories. He created extended, thoughtful, and powerful works through the '60s (FAR EAST SUITE and THE AFRO-EURASIAN ECLIPSE, for example) and beyond. The light-hearted "Goof" and the lush 20-minute "Queen's Suite" are hardly "hits" in the usual best-of album sense, but if you value quality and invention (the orchestrations are, as usual, brilliant) over familiarity, this album is a good bet.