Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Duke Ellington (conductor, piano); Ivy Anderson, Herb Jeffries (vocals); Johnny Hodges (soprano & alto saxophones, clarinet); Harry Carney (alto & baritone saxophones, clarinet); Otto Hardwick (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Ben Webster (tenor saxophone); Rex Steward (trumpet, cornet); Ray Nance (trumpet, violin); Wallace Jones, Cootie Williams (trumpet); Juan Tizol (trombone, valve trombone); Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown (trombone); Barney Bigard (clarinet, subtone clarinet); Billy Strayhorn (piano); Fred Guy (guitar); Jimmy Blanton, Alvin "Junior" Raglin (bass); Sonny Greer (drums).
Reissue producers: Rolf Enoch/Pro Jazz Team.
Recorded in Hollywood, California on May 4, 1940. Includes original release liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Though there are hundreds of Duke Ellington compilations and reissues in existence, what makes IN A MELLOTONE special is that it's one of those rare CD reissues of what had been a storied vinyl compilation. Compiled and sequenced by jazz writer and historian Nat Hentoff, who also wrote the enlightening liner notes, IN A MELLOTONE was originally released by RCA Victor in the '40s as an early collection of beloved Ellington recordings previously available only on fragile 78s. The collection includes his theme, "Take the A Train," as well as "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," the trumpet showcase "Cotton Tail," and the title track, alongside such early tone poem experiments as "Sepia Panorama" and "A Portrait of Bert Williams." IN A MELLOTONE is also a particularly fascinating historical document, as not all of these tracks are among Ellington's best known.
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