Editors’ Notes Duke Ellington had been an established force in the jazz world for more than a decade when the infusion of three dynamic talents ushered in what is largely considered the band’s most rewarding creative period. First was Billy Strayhorn, a young composer and arranger who finagled a backstage meeting with Ellington in Pittsburgh in late 1938 and impressed him enough to earn an invitation to the organization. Next came bassist Jimmie Blanton, who was 21 when Duke hired him in October of 1939 and who possessed a supple, bouncy style that gave the bass a new prominence. Finally, tenor Ben Webster signed on in January of 1940; his vigorous yet emotive tone had made him one of the most sought-after saxophone voices of the swing era. With a handsome new RCA Victor contract in hand, Ellington took his rejuvenated orchestra into the studio for the first time in March of 1940, and in a little more than two years, the orchestra produced these 75 glorious cuts — pop hits, jazz classics, tone poems, high-energy jams, Latin-influenced pieces, and more. With stalwarts including Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, Juan Tizol, and Barney Bigard already on board, the band delivered a host of riches: “Cotton Tail,” “Never No Lament,” “In a Mellotone,” “Warm Valley,” “I Got It Bad,” and “Sentimental Lady” among them. By 1941, Strayhorn's contributions were having a major impact, including the winsome “Chelsea Bridge,” lively “Raincheck,” and stylish “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

SONG
You, You Darlin' (1999 Remastered)
1
3:18
 
Jack the Bear
2
3:15
 
Ko-Ko (Take 2)
3
2:40
 
Morning Glory
4
3:16
 
So Far, So Good
5
2:51
 
Conga Brava
6
2:56
 
Concerto for Cootie
7
3:18
 
Me and You
8
2:52
 
Cotton Tail
9
3:11
 
Never No Lament
10
3:16
 
Dusk (Take 1)
11
3:18
 
Bojangles
12
2:51
 
A Portrait of Bert Williams
13
3:07
 
Blue Goose
14
3:20
 
Harlem Air-Shaft
15
2:57
 
At a Dixie Roadside Diner
16
2:47
 
All Too Soon
17
3:29
 
Rumpus In Richmond
18
2:47
 
My Greatest Mistake
19
3:24
 
Sepia Panorama (Take 1)
20
3:23
 
There Shall Be No Night
21
3:10
 
In a Mellotone
22
3:15
 
Five O'Clock Whistle
23
3:17
 
The Flaming Sword (Take 2)
24
3:06
 
Warm Valley (Take 3)
25
3:21
 
Across the Track Blues (Take 1)
1
2:59
 
Chloe (Song of the Swamp)
2
3:24
 
I Never Felt This Way Before (Take 1)
3
3:30
 
The Sidewalks of New York
4
3:13
 
Flamingo
5
3:22
 
The Girl In My Dreams Tries to Look Like You (Take 1)
6
3:17
 
Take the "A" Train
7
2:54
 
Jumpin' Punkins (Take 2)
8
3:31
 
John Hardy's Wife
9
3:27
 
Blue Serge
10
3:20
 
After All
11
3:20
 
Bakiff
12
3:23
 
Are You Stickin'? (Take 1)
13
3:03
 
Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'
14
3:33
 
The Giddybug Gallop
15
3:30
 
Pitter Panther Patter (Take 2)
16
3:01
 
Body and Soul (Take 3)
17
3:08
 
Sophisticated Lady (Take 2)
18
2:44
 
Mr. J.B. Blues (Take 1)
19
3:02
 
Ko-Ko (Take 1)
20
2:37
 
Bojangles
21
2:43
 
Sepia Panorama (Take 2)
22
3:21
 
Jumpin' Punkins (Take 1)
23
3:39
 
Jump for Joy (Take 2)
24
2:56
 
Chocolate Shake
1
2:53
 
I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) [Take 1]
2
3:18
 
Clementine
3
2:58
 
The Brownskin Gal (In the Calico Gown)
4
3:08
 
Jump for Joy (Take 1)
5
2:52
 
Moon Over Cuba
6
3:13
 
Five O'Clock Drag
7
3:12
 
Rocks In My Bed
8
3:06
 
Bli-Blip
9
3:04
 
Raincheck
10
2:29
 
What Good Would It Do?
11
2:46
 
I Don't Know What Kind of Blues I Got (Take 1)
12
3:14
 
Chelsea Bridge
13
2:53
 
Perdido (Take 1)
14
3:07
 
The "C" Jam Blues
15
2:36
 
Moon Mist (Take 2)
16
2:58
 
What Am I Here For?
17
3:25
 
I Don't Mind (Take 2)
18
2:49
 
Someone
19
3:07
 
My Little Brown Book
20
3:12
 
Main Stem
21
2:48
 
Johnny Come Lately
22
2:40
 
Hayfoot, Strawfoot (Take 1)
23
2:33
 
Sentimental Lady (Take 1)
24
3:01
 
A Slip of the Lip (Can Sink a Ship)
25
2:55
 
Sherman Shuffle
26
2:38
 

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