I enjoy most anything Duke has ever released, from his earlier band from the 30's (quite underrated) up to the 1956 Newport concert and the Great Summit meeting with Louis and so on. But this band was definitely the apex of his career. I mean Webster, Blanton, Nance...wow! It doesn't get much better than that, although some would argue, me included, that Basie's lineup of Pres, Jo Jones, Walter Page, Clayton, Evans & Sweets along with Jimmy Rushing was better (I say it's too close to call). But that's neither here nor there, as any lover of jazz will have as much of both of these bands as they can get their hands on. If you get this set in other forms (I believe another reviewer suggested Proper which uses too much noise reduction, resulting in almost no high end at all to go with the absence of surface noise), you're likely wasting your money. I will admit that I go that route on the occasion when I can't find reissues of the original source. JSP is a label you can trust to be...
This timeless, classic music has never sounded better. I have recently purchased this set to replace the RCA Blanton-Webster black box that I've had forever. This set wins - hands down - overall the sound is much clearer and cleaner. More importantly, as others have note, you really hear Blanton's basswork.
Some, like me, will appreciate the eco freindly cardboard sleeve, currently in vogue for the many complete classical sets being repackaged and remarketed by the major labels. True, this one is a little "softer", but the discs are well protected, the slim outline fits in nicely within my library, and the color scheme makes it easily identifiable.
Again - I can't overemphasize how good these recordings sound, particularly through an audiophile system. It's like hearing the master shellacs at the time of recording. Actually, they probably sound better than what was available to sound engineers nearly 70 years ago.
These selections are widely recognized as among the most important recordings in the history of jazz, and rightly so. Included are the definitive versions of many of Ellington's (and his associates') most inspired compositions, performed by one of the greatest bands ever assembled. The musicianship is superb throughout, with absolutely stunning solo and ensemble work on track after track, particularly on the instrumental selections that make up the bulk of the set.
To my ears, the sound quality is astonishingly good. I've been listening to this material on various other compilations (Bluebird's "Blanton-Webster Band," the relevant volumes in the Melodie Jazz Classic label's "Chronological Classics" series, an RCA "Jazz Tribune" set, etc.) for years, and I'm amazed at how much better this issue sounds than any of those. It's true that there's a bit of surface noise, but as one other reviewer has already noted, the problem with noise reduction...
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