“Masterpieces By Ellington“ shines from an astonishingly brief period of history that gave the recording industry two of its greatest achievements — the introduction of magnetic tape recording and the 33 1/3 LP, or long-playing record. Four years. That's all it took to go from the discovery by Americans, of German advancements in the field of sound recording, to the marketing of tape decks in the U.S. by the Ampex company, to Columbia's unveiling of its 12” LP, and the first long-playing record to be sold to consumers. The four selections contained here catapulted the Maestro Ellington into the LP era, as the great composer/arranger/pianist and his matchless orchestra took full advantage of the possibilities afforded by magnetic tape recording and the still-new 33 1/3 RPM LP to, for the first time, capture uncut concert arrangements of their signature songs. Suddenly, for the first time in his career, Ellington was able to forgo the 3 minutes-and-change restrictions afforded by the short running time of the 78 RPM disc. He and his band rose to the occasion with extended (11-minute plus) 'uncut concert arrangements' of three of his signature songs — “Mood Indigo”, “Sophisticated Lady”, with evocative vocals by Yvonne Lanauze, as well as “Solitude”. “Masterpieces“ was also notable for the debut of the full-bodied, surprise-laden “The Tattooed Bride”, and for the swansongs of three Ellintonian giants of longstanding: drummer Sonny Greer, trombonist Lawrence Brown and alto saxist Johnny Hodges (the latter two would eventually return to the fold). “Masterpieces“ is a revelation and a throwback to a golden recording age. So much history and so much luck combined make this album truly special.
Duke Ellington: Masterpieces By Ellington (45rpm-edition)
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