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The Duke Box contains a generous serving of more than eight hours of music from what many consider the greatest decade of the greatest orchestra in the history of jazz.
What's more, the Duke and his men, among them the incomparable Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Lawrence Brown, "Tricky" Sam Nanton, Harry Carnet, Rex Stewart, Barney Bigar d and Jimmy Blanton are captured live in dance halls, night clubs, concert halls and radio studios...with a you-are-there feeling absent from most commercial recordings.
We are lucky indeed that these slice-of-life sound documents survivie, or were made in the first place, such as the unique Fargo dance date, and hearing it chronologically places this grand music in a very special and illuminating perspective.
There are numbers you may know but never heard like this before and when there are several versions, each is different , and then there are some things that even seasoned Ellingtonians will encounter for the first time. So come on in for your special date with the immortal Duke!
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I would recommend that Blue Note issue the Fargo recordings as a solo album at a lower price. True lovers of Duke and the big band sounds might find the box album a good buy. I am a collector, and a lot of this stuff I have on other disks. I would recommend other albums--- the Blanton recordings, with the phenomenal bass of Jimmy Blanton. Also, the live Newport Jazz Festival recordings (2-cds) are very good.
The music is as flat as it was on 78's or AM radio. As technology has evolved are tastes change. By the standards of fifty years ago the recordings are very good but we've come to expect more, "The Duke" is a disappointment. Most of my listening to music is done on a high end CD player in my car. The player brings out the "tinny-ness" of recording technology of the past. It's not pleasant listening and it soon will end up parked on a shelf and forgotten. The "good old days" really were not.