This DVD compiles different short and medium-lenght films of the Duke and his orchestra. Included also assorted musical sequences from other motion pictures.
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were (and are) two of the main stems of jazz. Any way you look at it, just about everything that's ever happened in this music leads directly – or indirectly – back to them. Both men were born on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, and each became established as a leader during the middle '20s. Although their paths had crossed from time to time over the years, nobody in the entertainment industry had ever managed to get Armstrong and Ellington into a recording studio to make an album together. On April 3, 1961, producer Bob Thiele achieved what should be regarded as one of his greatest accomplishments; he organized and supervised a seven-and-a-half-hour session at RCA Victor's Studio One on East 24th Street in Manhattan, using a sextet combining Duke Ellington with Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars. This group included ex-Ellington clarinetist Barney Bigard, ex-Jimmie Lunceford swing-to-bop trombonist Trummy Young, bassist Mort Herbert, and drummer Danny Barcelona. A second session took place during the afternoon of the following day.
Compiled from several concerts in Paris and elsewhere in February, 1963, this set provides a panoramic snapshot of the range of Ellington's repertoire at the time. Lots of old favorites are included, along with a few newer pieces, as well as Suite Thursday and Harlem.
Awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966, Duke Ellington called his music "American music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond" category. He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music and is widely considered one of the 20th century's best composers and band leaders. Ellington's reputation has increased since his death in 1974, with thematic repackagings of his signature music often becoming best sellers. Posthumous recognition of his work include a special award citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board. This 1956 session features Ellington and 14 sidemen performing updated recordings of some of the best from Ellington's career going back to 1926.
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!