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The Complete RCA Victor Mid-Forties Recordings (1999 Remastered)

Duke Ellington

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Album Review

Once Duke Ellington's complete RCA/Victor recordings were released on the 24-disc box set in 1999, it meant that it was only a matter of time before the cream of that crop was released in individual sets. RCA was sharp enough to realize that there were a number of different audiences for Ellington's timeless recordings — audiences that wanted an overview of the entire multi-decade stint, audiences that wanted to hear a particular period of his time at the label. So, they released a number of different highlight discs, including the three-disc The Complete Victor Mid-Forties Recordings, which contained everything Ellington recorded during the middle of the '40s. This is one of Ellington's classic bands, perhaps his greatest band, and there are certainly listeners that will only want this, and nothing else. The problem is, the completists would rather spend their money on the full set, while the curious will definitely be better-served by the single-disc The Best of the Complete Duke Ellington RCA/Victor Recordings: The Mid Forties Recordings, which contains the cream of this admittedly excellent crop. So, it's all a matter of knowing what consumer you are; if you just have an interest in a specific era, go for this (or the highlights if you're budget-conscious), but if you're a completist/scholar, acquire this music through the comprehensive 24-disc box set.

Biography

Born: 29 April 1899 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Duke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years. The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his bandmembers, many of whom remained with him for long periods. Ellington also wrote film scores and stage musicals, and several of his instrumental works...
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