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Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington

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Album Review

In conjunction with the release of Ken Burns' ten-part, 19-hour epic PBS documentary Jazz, Columbia issued 22 single-disc compilations devoted to jazz's most significant artists, as well as a five-disc historical summary. Since the individual compilations attempt to present balanced overviews of each artist's career, tracks from multiple labels have thankfully been licensed where appropriate. This volume features many of Duke Ellington's best-known standards, including "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Mood Indigo," "Caravan," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Sophisticated Lady," "Take the 'A' Train," and the later-period comeback hit "Satin Doll." For the sake of unity, Ellington's longer-form works aren't emphasized here, nor are extended live tracks like the legendary 1956 Newport Jazz Festival version of "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue," which revitalized Ellington's career. Instead of undertaking the impossible task of recounting that career over a single disc, Ken Burns Jazz concentrates on the Ellington pieces that are burned the most indelibly into jazz history. As such, it's a very strong, cohesive introduction to one of the largest, richest, and most influential bodies of work in American music.

Customer Reviews

Best SIngle Disc Duke Compilation

If you are looking for an introduction to Duke Ellington's music, look no further. This has most of his notable compositions and most are original (or at least early on) recordings. Some additional songs to check out by the Duke are I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart and In A Sentimental Mood.


Duke Elliington , the most famous African American jazz palyer of all time, talents can be heared in this album. He has created amazing soulful jazz that refelcts the 1920s and 30s era. The rythmic trumpets and mellow piano create a rich sound anyone can enjoy. A Must Have For Jazz Lovers!


Born: April 29, 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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