A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York, he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. George Duke showed a great deal of promise early in his career as a jazz pianist and keyboardist, but has forsaken that form to be a pop producer.
Duke Ellington is featured in a complete performance at Basin Street East in New York City on this CD, as it was originally broadcast on WNEW, complete with his verbal exchanges with host William B. Williams. Unlike many of his concerts, there is no long medley of hits; instead, Ellington offers an interesting mix of old and new songs. The newer material includes his "gutbucket bolero," known as "Afro Bossa" (also titled "Bula"), featuring the gruff, muted trumpet of Cootie Williams, and the high-note theatrics of Cat Anderson. "Silk Lace" is a brisk rhumba featuring clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, while the band (except for the rhythm section) sits out Ellington's masterful ballad "A Single Petal of a Rose."