Duke Ellington's Finest Hour
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Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this entry in Verve's Finest Hour series is that it covers 46 years in Ellington's career, from the very beginning of his recording career in 1926, to the very end in 1972. There are brilliant stops along the way with the Blanton/Webster edition of the band, and many of the '30s versions of his classics as well. Both parts of "Creole Rhapsody" are here, as are rather unexpected entries like "Stompy Jones," and "Self Portrait (Of a Bean)." There are better collections to be sure, but this is not one to discount for its cheesy title or for its sound, which is exceptionally good.
Born: 29 April 1899 in Washington D.C.
Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s