Duke Ellington: Black Beauty


Black Beauty


Duke Ellington (piano)


The Duke: The Columbia Years 1927-1962 (Sony Jazz 5176872)

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Duke Ellington (piano).

Composed by Duke Ellington


Recorded: New York, October 1, 1928


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Duke Ellington is revered for his suave showmanship, his prodigious output of timeless compositions, and his knack as a bandleader to herd cats. Central to the legend is his unparalleled mastery of orchestration. How many times have you heard it? Ellington's true instrument was his band. Yet there remains something deeply affecting about Duke, alone at the piano, playing one of his loveliest tunes—a portrait of Florence Mills, the internationally adored African-American musical comedy star who'd died at 31 less than a year before. He's technically no James P. Johnson or Fats Waller, but Duke as solo pianist lets us access one of the 20th century's keenest intellects and grandest charmers, unfiltered by interpreters. Ellington's true instrument was his mind.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz


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