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Blanton-Webster Band (1990)

Duke Ellington
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The Blanton–Webster Band combines the master takes of all the recordings by Duke Ellington's Orchestra during the years of 1940 to 1942, involving bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. The recordings were originally made for RCA Victor during what many critics regard as the Ellington orchestra's golden period. The three CDs contain many numbers which were to become classics, and the arrangements were frequently inventive and innovative. The collection does not include alternate takes or the duets Ellington performed with Jimmy Blanton, available elsewhere. With 66 tracks, the selection includes many of Ellington's hits and classic songs. Rolling Stone praises the collection as "a masterwork of composition and leadership" and "a series of individual triumphs from the greatest team of jazz players...ever assembled". Allmusic describes it as "essential for all jazz collections". Bassist Blanton was only with the Ellington orchestra for two years, retiring in 1941 due to tuberculosis, and dying the following year at the age of 23. Despite this compilation's title, Blanton does not appear on the final 17 tracks of the collection, having been replaced on bass by Alvin "Junior" Raglin.
The collection was re-organized, rereleased, and remastered with additional tracks in 2003 as Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band.
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