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The Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings Limited Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Limited Edition, April 27, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Close your eyes, dip your hand into this treasure chest, and play any of the 462 tracks contained within: you are guaranteed to hear something magnificent. It may be a stunning composition, an innovative arrangement, or an astonishing improvisational passage, but the brilliance is there.

It is only fitting that the greatest figure in 20th-century popular music is the subject of this most wondrous box set. Across 24 discs, the majesty and unparalleled genius of Duke Ellington is on vivid display. Listening to the box from start to finish in chronological order, you discover a composer, bandleader, and pianist who consistently and daringly pushed his music ever forward. As fascinating as it is to hear his artistic progression as it unfolds, it is even more remarkable to digest these CDs out of order. During the course of 50 years, Ellington's creative wellspring gushed an amazing variety of music delivered in a multitude of different styles and settings; yet somehow, someway, it all sounds like Ellington. Whereas some artists find the blues idiom constricting, Duke saw it as a highly malleable and versatile foundation.

The first seven CDs chronicle the maestro's Cotton Club days and his theatrical, visceral "jungle music," which was created as part of the club's African-themed stage shows and "tribal" dances. Even at this early stage, Ellington showed a tremendous ability to create expressive moods and keen imagery through his compositions as well as an uncanny understanding of his players' strengths. Six discs are dedicated to the early 1940s, when tenor sax player Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton elevated the band to new heights. The next three CDs cover the mid-1940s, when the Duke began experimenting with longer pieces. Another combines mid-1940s all-star jams with a full 1952 Seattle concert. All three of Ellington's Sacred Concerts follow, a bold, pioneering fusion of jazz and church, complete with choir and dance, that used the language of music to eloquently sermonize on the subjects of personal freedom, spirituality, and communication with God. The collection wraps up with four discs' worth of late-period magic, including the exotic and dramatic Far East Suite and an homage to recently departed Billy Strayhorn.

This stunning package also serves as a tribute to all of the superior musicians that found a home in the Ellington Orchestra. Special mention must be made of altoist Johnny Hodges, who first recorded with Ellington in 1928 and stayed with him (except for a brief respite in the 1950s) until his death in 1970. Throughout, his sublime tone and fertile imagination epitomize the beauty, inventiveness, and dignity that is the essence of jazz. Also of note are the many superb compositions and arrangements from Strayhorn, who managed to carve a vital niche for himself while remaining true to the sound of Ellingtonia.

The accompanying 128-page full-color book overflows with wonderful photos and insightful essays that explore Ellington from every possible angle. The discographical information is delivered with excruciating detail and the package as a whole exudes love, devotion, and respect.

Somewhere deep inside the book, producer Orrin Keepnews writes, "When dealing with the music of Edward Kennedy Ellington, there is no excuse for stopping anywhere short of perfection." Mission accomplished. --Marc Greilsamer

(Casual listeners might prefer the single-CD sampler.)


Images of trains are recurrent in Ellington's work. Ellington was said to have composed Daybreak Express by putting notes to paper as he bounced and swayed along in between stops in an effort to capture the rhythm of a train and its metallic variations of sound. To complete the image, the reed section produces a dead-on "train whistle" effect - no small feat. Soloists include alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and trumpeters Cootie Williams and Louis Bacon.

--- JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. If You Can't Hold the Man You Love (Don't Cry When He's Gone)
  2. Washington Wabble - Take 1
  3. Washington Wabble - Take 2
  4. Black and Tan Fantasy
  5. Washington Wabble
  6. Creole Love Call
  7. Blues I Love to Sing - Take 1
  8. Blues I Love to Sing - Take 2
  9. Harlem River Quiver - Take 1
  10. Harlem River Quiver - Take 2
  11. Harlem River Quiver - Take 3
  12. East St. Louis Toodle-o
  13. Blue Bubbles - Take 1
  14. Blue Bubbles - Take 2
  15. Black Beauty
  16. Solitude - Take 1
  17. Got Everything But You
  18. Santa Claus, Bring My Man Back to Me
  19. I Done Caught You Blues
  20. The Mooche

Disc: 2

  1. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  2. No Papa No
  3. No Papa No
  4. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
  5. Bandanna Babies
  6. Diga Diga Do
  7. I Must Have That Man
  8. St. Louis Blues - Take 1
  9. St. Louis Blues - Take 2
  10. St. Louis Blues - Take 3 (previously unreleased)
  11. Flaming Youth - Take 1
  12. Flaming Youth - Take 2
  13. Saturday Night Function
  14. High Life
  15. Doin' the Voom Voom - Take 1 (previously unreleased)
  16. Doin' the Voom Voom - Take 2
  17. Japanese Dream
  18. Harlemania

Disc: 3

  1. The Dicty Glide - Take 1
  2. The Dicty Glide - Take 2
  3. Hot Feet
  4. Sloppy Joe - Take 1
  5. Sloppy Joe - Take 2
  6. Stevedore Stomp
  7. A Night at the Cotton Club, Part 1/Cotton Club Stomp/Misty Mornin'
  8. A Night at the Cotton Club, Part 2/Goin' to Town/Untitled Interlude/Freeze and Melt
  9. Cotton Club Stomp
  10. Misty Mornin'
  11. Arabian Lover
  12. Saratoga Swing
  13. Mississippi
  14. The Duke Steps Out
  15. Haunted Nights
  16. Swanee Shuffle
  17. Breakfast Dance
  18. Jazz Lips
  19. March of the Hoodlums

Disc: 4

  1. Double Check Stomp
  2. My Gal Is Good for Nothing But Love
  3. I Was Made to Love You
  4. Sweet Dreams Of Love - Take 1
  5. Sweet Dreams of Love - Take 2
  6. Jungle Nights in Harlem
  7. Sweet Jazz o' Mine - Take 1
  8. Sweet Jazz o' Mine - Take 2
  9. Shout 'Em Aunt Tillie
  10. Ring Dem Bells - Take 2
  11. Ring Dem Bells - Take 3
  12. Old Man Blues - Take 1
  13. Old Man Blues - Take 2
  14. Old Man Blues - Take 3
  15. Three Little Words (previously unreleased)
  16. Three Little Words
  17. Ring Dem Bells
  18. Old Man Blues - Take 4
  19. Old Man Blues - Take 6
  20. Hittin' the Bottle - Take 1
  21. Hittin' the Bottle - Take 2
  22. That Lindy Hop

Disc: 5

  1. You're Lucky to Me
  2. Memories of You
  3. Nine Little Miles from Ten-Ten-Tennessee - Take 1
  4. Nine Little Miles from Ten-Ten-Tennessee - Take 2
  5. I'm So in Love with You - Take 1 (previously unreleased)
  6. I'm So in Love with You - Take 2
  7. What Good Am I Without You?
  8. Blue Again
  9. When a Black Man's Blue
  10. Mood Indigo
  11. What Good Am I Without You?
  12. When a Black Man's Blue
  13. The River and Me
  14. Keep a Song in Your Soul
  15. Sam and Delilah
  16. Rockin' in Rhythm - Take 1
  17. Rockin' in Rhythm - Take 2
  18. Creole Rhapsody, Part 1
  19. Creole Rhapsody, Part 2
  20. Creole Rhapsody, Part 2 - Take 2 (previously unreleased)

Disc: 6

  1. Limehouse Blues
  2. Echoes of the Jungle
  3. It's Glory
  4. The Mystery Song
  5. The Mystery Song
  6. Mood Indigo/Hot and Bothered/Creole Love Call
  7. Mood Indigo/Hot and Bothered/Creole Love Call (Stereo Version)
  8. East St. Louis Toodle-O/Lots O' Fingers/Black and Tan Fantasy
  9. Dinah
  10. Bugle Call Rag
  11. Maori
  12. Rude Interlude - Take 1
  13. Rude Interlude - Take 2
  14. Dallas Doings - Take 1
  15. Dallas Doings - Take 2

Disc: 7

  1. Dear Old Southland - Take 1
  2. Dear Old Southland - Take 2
  3. Daybreak Express - Take 1
  4. Daybreak Express - Take 2
  5. Delta Serenade - Take 1
  6. Delta Serenade - Take 2
  7. Stompy Jones
  8. Solitude
  9. Blue Feeling
  10. Ebony Rhapsody
  11. Cocktails for Two - Take 1
  12. Cocktails for Two - Take 2
  13. Live and Love Tonight
  14. I Met My Waterloo
  15. Troubled Waters - Take 1 (previously unreleased)
  16. Troubled Waters - Take 2
  17. My Old Flame

Disc: 8

  1. You, You Darlin'
  2. Jack the Bear
  3. Ko-Ko - Take 1
  4. Ko-Ko - Take 2
  5. Morning Glory
  6. So Far, So Good
  7. Conga Brava
  8. Concerto for Cootie
  9. Me and You
  10. Bojangles
  11. Cotton Tail
  12. Never No Lament
  13. Blue Goose
  14. Dusk - Take 1
  15. Dusk - Take 2
  16. Bojangles
  17. A Portrait of Bert Williams
  18. Blue Goose
  19. Harlem Air-Shaft
  20. At a Dixie Roadside Diner
  21. All Too Soon
  22. Rumpus in Richmond
  23. My Greatest Mistake

Disc: 9

  1. Sepia Panorama - Take 1
  2. Sepia Panorama - Take 2
  3. There Shall Be No Night
  4. In a Mellotone
  5. Five O'Clock Whistle
  6. Warm Valley
  7. Pitter Panther Patter - Take 1
  8. Pitter Panther Patter - Take 2
  9. Body and Soul - Take 1
  10. Body and Soul - Take 2
  11. Body and Soul - Take 3
  12. Sophisticated Lady
  13. Sophisticated Lady
  14. Mr. J. B. Blues - Take 1
  15. Mr. J. B. Blues - Take 2
  16. The Flaming Sword - Take 1
  17. The Flaming Sword - Take 2
  18. The Flaming Sword - Take 3
  19. Warm Valley - Take 2
  20. Warm Valley - Take 3
  21. Across the Track Blues
  22. Across the Track Blues
  23. Chloe (Song of the Swamp)

Disc: 10

  1. I Never Felt This Way Before - Take 1
  2. I Never Felt This Way Before - Take 2
  3. Day Dream
  4. Good Queen Bess
  5. Good Queen Bess
  6. That's the Blues, Old Man
  7. Junior Hop - Take 1
  8. Junior Hop - Take 2
  9. Without a Song - Take 1
  10. Without a Song - Take 2
  11. My Sunday Gal
  12. Mobile Bay - Take 1
  13. Mobile Bay - Take 2
  14. Linger Awhile - Take 1
  15. Linger Awhile - Take 2
  16. Charlie the Chulo - Take 2
  17. Charlie the Chulo
  18. Charlie the Chulo - Take 1
  19. Lament for Javanette
  20. Lament for Javanette - Take 1a
  21. A Lull at Dawn
  22. A Lull at Dawn
  23. A Lull at Dawn - Take 1a
  24. Ready Eddy - Take 1

Disc: 11

  1. Ready Eddy
  2. Ready Eddy
  3. Ready Eddy - Take 2
  4. The Sidewalks of New York
  5. Flamingo
  6. The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look Like You - Take 1
  7. The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look Like You - Take 2
  8. Take the "A" Train
  9. Jumpin' Punkins - Take 1
  10. Jumpin' Punkins - Take 2
  11. John Hardy's Wife
  12. Blue Serge
  13. After All
  14. Dear Old Southland - Take 1
  15. Dear Old Southland - Take 2
  16. Solitude - Take 1
  17. Solitude - Take 2
  18. Bakiff
  19. Are You Sticking? - Take 1
  20. Are You Sticking? - Take 2
  21. Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'
  22. The Giddybug Gallop
  23. Chocolate Shake

Disc: 12

  1. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) - Take 1
  2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) - Take 2
  3. Clementine
  4. The Brown-skin Gal (in the Calico Gown)
  5. Jump for Joy - Take 1
  6. Jump for Joy - Take 2
  7. Moon Over Cuba
  8. Some Saturday
  9. Subtle Slough
  10. Menelik - The Lion of Judah - Take 1
  11. Menelik - The Lion of Judah - Take 2 (previously unreleased)
  12. Poor Bubber
  13. Squaty Roo
  14. Passion Flower
  15. Things Ain't What They Used to Be
  16. Goin' Out the Back Way
  17. Five O'Clock Drag
  18. Rocks in My Bed
  19. Bli-Blip
  20. Chelsea Bridge
  21. Brown Suede
  22. Noir Bleu
  23. "C" Blues
  24. June

Disc: 13

  1. Raincheck
  2. What Good Would It Do?
  3. I Don't Know What Kind of Blues I Got - Take 1
  4. I Don't Know What Kind of Blues I Got - Take 2 (previously unreleased)
  5. Chelsea Bridge
  6. Perdido - Take 1
  7. Perdido - Take 2
  8. The "C" Jam Blues
  9. Moon Mist - Take 1
  10. Moon Mist - Take 2
  11. What Am I Here For?
  12. I Don't Mind - Take 1 (previously unreleased)
  13. I Don't Mind - Take 2
  14. Someone
  15. My Little Brown Book
  16. Main Stem
  17. Johnny Come Lately
  18. Hayfoot, Strawfoot - Take 1
  19. Hayfoot, Strawfoot - Take 2
  20. Sentimental Lady - Take 1
  21. Sentimental Lady - Take 2
  22. A Slip of the Lip
  23. Sherman Shuffle

Disc: 14

  1. I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues
  2. I'm Beginning to See the Light - Take 1
  3. I'm Beginning to See the Light - Take 2
  4. Don't You Know I Care - Take 1
  5. Don't You Know I Care - Take 2
  6. I Didn't Know About You
  7. Work Song
  8. Come Sunday
  9. The Blues
  10. Three Dances
  11. Carnegie Blues
  12. Blue Cellophane
  13. Mood to Be Wooed
  14. (All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings
  15. Kissing Bug
  16. Everything But You
  17. (Otto Make That) Riff Staccato
  18. Prelude to a Kiss
  19. Caravan
  20. Black and Tan Fantasy
  21. Mood Indigo
  22. In a Sentimental Mood

Disc: 15

  1. It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got that Swing)
  2. Sophisticated Lady
  3. Tonight I Shall Sleep (With a Smile on My Face)
  4. The Minor Goes Muggin'
  5. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart - Take 1
  6. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart - Take 2
  7. Solitude
  8. Frankie and Johnny
  9. Jumpin' Room Only
  10. Black Beauty
  11. Every Hour on the Hour
  12. Balcony Serenade
  13. Strange Feeling
  14. Dancers in Love
  15. Coloratura - Take 2
  16. Coloratura - Take 1
  17. Things Ain't What They Used to Be
  18. Tell Ya What I'm Gonna Do
  19. Come to Baby, Do!
  20. I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So
  21. Long, Strong and Consecutive
  22. The Wonder of You
  23. Tonk
  24. Drawing Room Blues

Disc: 16

  1. Rockabye River
  2. Suddenly It Jumped
  3. Transblucency
  4. Just Squeeze Me
  5. Gathering in a Clearing
  6. You Don't Love Me No More
  7. Pretty Woman
  8. Hey, Baby
  9. (Back Home Again in) Indiana
  10. Blue Is the Night
  11. Lover Man - Take 1
  12. Lover Man - Take 2
  13. Just You, Just Me
  14. Beale Street Blues
  15. Memphis Blues
  16. St. Louis Blues
  17. My Honey's Lovin' Arms
  18. (I Don't Stand) A Ghost of a Chance (with You)
  19. Swamp Fire
  20. Royal Garden Blues
  21. Esquire Swank
  22. Midriff

Disc: 17

  1. Long, Long Journey
  2. The One That Got Away
  3. Gone with the Wind
  4. Metronome All-Out
  5. Skin Deep
  6. How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me? (Sultry Serenade)
  7. Sophisticated Lady
  8. Perdido
  9. Caravan
  10. Harlem Suite
  11. The Hawk Talks
  12. Ellington Medley: Don't Get Around Much Any More/In a Sentimental Mood/Mood Indigo/I'mBeginning to See the Light/Prelude to a Kiss/It Don't Mean a Thing (IfIt Ain't Got that Swing)/Solitude/I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  13. Jam with Sam

Disc: 18

  1. In the Beginning God
  2. Tell Me It's the Truth
  3. Come Sunday
  4. The Lord's Prayer
  5. Come Sunday
  6. Will You Be There?/Ain't But the One
  7. New World A-Comin'
  8. David Danced (Before the Lord with All His Might)
  9. Ninety Nine Percent (previously unreleased)
  10. My Mother, My Father and Love (previously unreleased)
  11. New World A-Comin' (previously unreleased)
  12. A Christmas Surprise (previously unreleased)
  13. A Christmas Surprise (previously unreleased)

Disc: 19

  1. Praise God
  2. Supreme Being
  3. Heaven
  4. Something 'Bout Believing
  5. Almighty God
  6. The Shepherd
  7. It's Freedom
  8. Meditation
  9. The Biggest and Busiest Intersection
  10. T. G. T. T.
  11. Don't Get Down on Your Knees to Pray Until You Have Forgiven Everyone

Disc: 20

  1. Father Forgive
  2. Praise God and Dance
  3. Introduction by Sir Colin Crowe
  4. Introduction by Duke Ellington
  5. The Lord's Prayer/My Love
  6. Is God a Three-Letter Word for Love? (Part I)
  7. Is God a Three-Letter Word for Love? (Part II)
  8. The Brotherhood
  9. Hallelujah
  10. Every Man Prays in His Own Language
  11. Ain't Nobody Nowhere Nothin' Without God
  12. The Majesty of God

Disc: 21

  1. Tourist Point of View - Take 7
  2. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah) - Take 12
  3. Isfahan - Take 1
  4. Depk
  5. Mount Harissa
  6. Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues)
  7. Agra
  8. Amad - Take 3
  9. Ad Lib on Nippon
  10. Tourist Point of View - Take 5
  11. Bluebird of Delhi (Mynah) - Take 8
  12. Isfahan - Take 2
  13. Amad - Take 5

Disc: 22

  1. Take the "A" Train
  2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
  3. Perdido
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Black and Tan Fantasy
  6. The Twitch
  7. Solitude
  8. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
  9. The Mooche
  10. Sophisticated Lady
  11. Creole Love Call
  12. Caravan (previously unreleased)
  13. Wings & Things (previously unreleased)
  14. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me (previously unreleased)
  15. House of Lords
  16. The Second Portrait of the Lion
  17. Take the "A" Train
  18. Caravan
  19. Mood Indigo
  20. Love Scene (previously unreleased)

Disc: 23

  1. The Mooche
  2. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  3. I'm Beginning to See the Light
  4. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
  5. Sophisticated Lady
  6. Timon of Athens March
  7. Solitude
  8. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
  9. Satin Doll
  10. Single Petal of a Rose (previously unreleased)
  11. Snibor
  12. Boo-Dah
  13. Blood Count
  14. U. M. M. G.
  15. Charpoy
  16. After All
  17. The Intimacy of the Blues
  18. Raincheck - Take 6
  19. Raincheck - Take 4 (previously unreleased)
  20. Day Dream
  21. Rock Skippin' at the Blue Note

Disc: 24

  1. All Day Long
  2. Lotus Blossom - Take 1
  3. Lotus Blossom
  4. Smada - Take 3 (previously unreleased)
  5. Smada - Take 4
  6. Midriff
  7. My Little Brown Book
  8. Acht O'Clock Rock
  9. The Piano Player
  10. Creole Love Call
  11. Don't You Know I Care
  12. I Can't Get Started with You
  13. New York, New York
  14. Pitter Panther Patter
  15. How High the Moon
  16. Basin Street Blues
  17. Tiger Rag
  18. Soso
  19. Meditation
  20. Mecuria, the Lion (previously unreleased)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 27, 1999)
  • limited_edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 24
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00000IIQY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,501 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Duke Ellington Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 28, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Congratulations are in order for producers Keepnews and Lasker, and for BMG. If only Sony would issue it's Ellington holdings (Columbia, Brunswick, Okeh, etc.) in such a comprehensive and intelligent fashion! The remastering is fantastic. The digital transfers are wonderfully clear and full-bodied (for a sample of other work by Steven Lasker check out reissues of Ellington's 1920s Brunswick recordings on the GRP/Decca Jazz label), and easily superior to any previous issues of these recordings. The music, whether from the 1920s, 30s, 40s or 60s is some of the best in the Ellington catalog. The annotations are meticulous and the 124 page book is beautifully illustrated.

REVISED - 2006 - O.K., I was a little excited when I wrote my earlier review. I still stand by everything I wrote, though with a few qualifications. First, the other reviewers here are correct about the packaging. I replaced the cardboard sleeves with jewel cases. Second, the content of the book is excellent. However, it is not bound well. I've been extremely careful with mine, but a few pages are coming loose. Third, I think the remastering on the first thirteen discs is excellent. I've been listening to 78-era recordings for many years. The background hiss is inevitable. To remove all of the hiss would leave a boxy and compressed sound, and that's as grating to me as the hiss seems to be for others. Unfortunately, I don't think discs 14 through 16 in this set meet the same high standards of the first thirteen. To my ears, they have some of that dreadful compressed quality. They are much better than previous issues, but not as good as the first thirteen discs (a different engineer performed the CEDAR noise reduction on discs 14-16). Finally, discs 17 through 24 are a mixed bag.
Read more ›
2 Comments 38 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
Very few mammoth box sets are worth the money, simply because very few artists are worth the attention. Duke Ellington's music is dirt-cheap even at these prices. These recordings are, of course, part of our everyday musical language -- but in RCA's remastered sound, it's like meeting old friends for the first time. Ellington's practical knowledge of recording technology and techniques was ahead of its time, and RCA-Victor always had the best recording engineers and equipment. Even the earliest recordings are amazing for the brightness of their treble and the heft in their bass register. No longer do you feel as though you're listening to the Blanton-Webster band through a wall of mud -- this music comes across as fresh and newly-minted as the day it was played.
BMG's oversized accompanying book is a virtual Ellington encyclopedia, with complete track-by-track information down to the approximate times of day the sides were recorded and lists of soloists. An essential document which one hopes will be eventually reprinted in a more "user friendly" size for those who like to flip for information while they listen.
Of course, no one need talk much about the music itself. Suffice to say it is among the best the 20th century had to offer, and will still have a lot to say to us in the 21st. Few bands played such divine compositions with as much sophistication, creativity, emotion, and sheer unbridled energy as Ellington's band.
All in all, a stunning tribute to a man whose Pulitzer Prize came over a quarter of a century too late. Fortunately the music, thanks to BMG's labor of love (and, admittedly, commerce), is the only prize that really matters. Thank you, BMG, and thank you, Mr. Ellington!
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You can't go wrong with the man who was truly 'Beyond Category' - the greatest musician in American history, and, very likely, the greatest artist in American history -period - the great Duke Ellington.
RCA got a lot right with this set: the music - all 24 cds worth - is amazing, the remastering of the recordings from the 30s and40s is astonishing, and the lavishly illustrated booklet provides a comprehensive overview of the Duke's career.
The one thing that RCA got wrong, however, was the packaging of the individual cds. Each disc is enclosed in a cheap, flimsy, cardboard sleeve instead of in a jewel box. You can't get a disc out of its cardboard prison without reaching in and getting your fingerprints all over it . You can't store your new Ellington cds with the rest of your collection, because the sleeves won't fit in your cd shelf, nor will they stand up straight like a jewel box will. Even if you do stack them at the end of your row of normal cds, you still have to sort through them to find the disc you want, because you can't read the spine like you can on a normal jewel box. If you are spending this kind of money to buy a box set, I suspect that your interest in the Duke will last for a lifetime. I guarantee that the cheap cardboard sleeves in this set won't. If you are spending this kind of money to buy a box set, you shouldn't have to buy 24 empty jewel boxes to preserve your investment. That's what I plan to do, however. I suspect that many others will do the same.
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I agree with the person who complained about the cheap packaging. Yes the music is great. But cardboard sleeves? In addition to the problems that person cited, sliding discs in and out of the sleeve is going to scratch them.
Next, the little ribbons used for lifting the CDs out of their wells in the plastic box insert are glued in place. Guess what? They come unglued! Unless you reglue them, you have to turn the box upside down and shake out all the CDs to get the one you want.
Finally, the lovely book that comes with the set is cheaply bound. I haven't even read it once and there are pages coming loose.
Come on, RCA! This is meant to be your highest tribute to America's greatest composer, and you aren't exactly giving it away. You could have used better binding and real jewel cases, sold it at the same price, and still profited handsomely. Shame on you!
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