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* box set *

Recorded: 1939-1942

Released: Oct. 25, 1990

Rating: 4.800 (average of 5 ratings)

Genre: jazz

Quotable: “Perhaps…the greatest creative period by any single artist in jazz history.” – Marc Greilsamer,

Album Tracks, Disc 1:
1. You, You Darlin’ 2. Jack the Bear 3. Ko-Ko 4. Morning Glory 5. So Far, So Good 6. Congo Brava 7. Concerto for Cootie 8. Me and You 9. Cottontail 10. Never No Lament 11. Dusk 12. Bojangles (A Portrait of Bill Robinson) 13. A Portrait of Bert Williams 14. Blue Goose 15. Harlem Air Shaft 16. At a Dixie Roadside Diner 17. All Too Soon 18. Rumpus in Richmond 19. My Greatest Mistake 20. Sepia Panorama 21. There Shall Be No Night 22. In a Mellotone

Album Tracks, Disc 2:
1. Five O’Clock Whistle 2. Warm Valley 3. The Flaming Sword 4. Across the Track Blues 5. Chloe (Song of the Swamp) 6. I Never Felt This Way Before 7. The Sidewalks of New York 8. Flamingo 9. The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look Like You 10. Take the ‘A’ Train 11. Jumpin’ Punkins 12. John Hardy’s Wife 13. Blue Serge 14. After All 15. Bakiff 16. Are You Sticking? 17. Just A-Settin’ and A-Rockin’ 18. The Giddybug Gallop 19. Chocolate Shake 20. I Got It Band and That Ain’t Good 21. Clementine 22. The Brown-Skin Gal in the Calico Gown

Album Tracks, Disc 3:
1. Jump for Joy 2. Moon Over Cuba 3. Five O’Clock Drag 4. Rocks in My Bed 5. Bli-Blip 6. Chelsea Bridge 7. Raincheck 8. What Good Would It Do? 9. I Don’t Know What Kind of Blues I Got 10. Perdido 11. The ‘C’ Jam Blues 12. Moon Mist 13. What Am I Here For? 14. I Don’t Mind 15. Someone 16. My Little Brown Book 17. Main Stem 18. Johnny Come Lately 19. Hayfoot, Strawfoot 20. Sentimental Lady 21. A Slip of the Lip Can Sink a Ship 22. Sherman Shuffle

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • You, You Darlin’ (5/11/40) #28 US
  • Ko-Ko (6/1/40) #25 US
  • At a Dixie Roadside Diner (9/21/40) #27 US
  • Sepia Panorama (11/2/40) #24 US
  • Flamingo (6/14/41) #11 US
  • Take the ‘A’ Train (7/26/41) #11 US
  • I Got It Band and That Ain’t Good (10/11/41) #13 US
  • Hayfoot, Strawfoot (11/21/42) #10 RB
  • Never No Lament * (5/1/43) #8 US, #1 RB
  • Perdido (5/22/43) #21 US
  • Bojangles (A Portrait of Bill Robinson) (8/14/43) #19 US
  • A Slip of the Lip (8/28/43) #19 US, #1 RB
  • Sentimental Lady (9/4/43) #19 US, #1 RB
  • Concerto for Cootie ** (1/8/44) #10 US, #1 RB
  • Main Stem (3/4/44) #23 US, #1 RB
  • My Little Brown Book (6/3/44) #4 RB
  • Someone (6/10/44) #7 RB
  • I Don’t Mind (12/23/44) #9 RB
* released as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”

** released as “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me”


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more.

The Blanton-Webster Band
Duke Ellington
All Music Guide calls Duke Ellington “the most important composer in the history of jazz.” WR Joel Whitburn goes even farther, saying Ellington is “perhaps the single most important creative talent in American popular music history.” JW He scored 70 hits, including three #1 songs, on the pop charts from 1927 to 1953. Ellington also racked up a dozen top 10 R&B hits in the 1940s, including five consective #1 songs, all of which are featured here (Never No Lament, A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship), Sentimental Lady, Concerto for Cootie, and Main Stem). Also included is the Grammy Hall of Fame song Take the ‘A’ Train, which became Ellington’s theme song.

“This music is essential for all jazz collections.” SY “This attractive three-CD set” SY “not only represent[s] Ellington’s artistic apex, but perhaps reflect the greatest creative period by any single artist in jazz history.” MG “Several factors combine make these recordings great, not least the 78rpm format which restricted playing time to around three minutes. A lot happens in a very short time span. Often there are several themes in one arrangement and remarkably, in view of the limited time, there are transitional and developmental passages as well.” SN

This collection “contains the master takes of all 66 selections recorded by Duke Ellington’s Orchestra during what many historians consider its peak period. Left out are the many alternate takes, last released by European labels, and the Duke Ellington-Jimmy Blanton duets, which are available on a different CD.” SY

“Ellington had already made a lasting impression on jazz by 1940, but adding writer/arranger Billy Strayhorn, young bassist Jimmy Blanton, and tenor great Ben Webster brought the band to extraordinary new heights.” MG “The arrangements and originals of Ellington and Billy Strayhorn are full of surprises, and even the lesser-known pieces are generally gems.” SY Meanwhile, Blanton, who died of tuberculosis at age 23, changed the role of the double bass in jazz by moving it from the background to the forefront of the rhythm section. “Then there’s the unique tonal quality of Ellington’s orchestra, setting it apart from any ensemble in jazz.” SN

Rounding out the band are Johnny Hodges (alto), Cootie Williams and Wallace Jones (trumpets), Rex Stewart and Ray Nance (cornets), Juan Tizol (valve trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Tricky Sam Nanton and Lawrence Brown (trombones), Harry Carney (baritone/alto sax), Otto Hardwick (alto sax), Fred Guy (guitar), Sonny Greer (drums), and Ivie Anderson and Herb Jeffries (vocals).

“The set list reveals masterpiece after masterpiece.” MG “These recordings are neither landmarks of jazz improvisation or the Big Band dance music popular at the time they were recorded. Simply because neither categories seem adequate to embrace one of the finest bodies of music created this century.” SN

Review Source(s):

Last updated February 27, 2010.