Personnel: Duke Ellington (piano, tom tom); Betty Roch‚ (vocals); Freddy Guy (guitar); Barney Bigard (clarinet); Harry Carney (saxophone, baritone saxophone); Hilton Jefferson, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope (saxophone); Johnny Hodges, Otto Hardwick (alto saxophone); Clark Terry, Cootie Williams, Louis Bacon, Ray Nance, Rex Stewart, Arthur Whetsol, Willie Cook, Wallace Jones (trumpet); Lawrence D. Brown, Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Juan Tizol, Quentin Jackson, Britt Woodman (trombone); Billy Strayhorn (piano); Louie Bellson, Sonny Greer (drums).
These two original Duke Ellington albums on one CD from the Columbia Records vaults are quite different. Blue Light consists mostly of ballads originally recorded in the late '30s and not initially released until the early '50s. Included are two standards, the classic "Prelude to a Kiss" and lengthy epic "Reminiscing in Tempo." From 1951, Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown, which was reissued on CD in Japan, is the companion LP included in this package, and includes many Ellington favorites -- "Skin Deep" (featuring drummer Louie Bellson), "The Mooche," "Take the 'A' Train," "Perdido," and another magnum opus, "A Tone Parallel to Harlem." It's good to have both of these recordings on a single disc, and though they are not quintessential Ellington sides, they still can be easily recommended to all. ~ Michael G. Nastos