JazzTimes (9/99, pp.84-6) - "...the unprecedented interweaving statements of Basie's and Duke's soloists...constitutes one of the rare pleasures of modern-day life....it just blows the mind."
Duke Ellington Orchestra: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn (piano); Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges (alto saxophone); Paul Gonsalves (tenor saxophone); Harry Carney (baritone saxophone); Ray Nance (trumpet, violin); Cat Anderson, Willie Cook, Fats Ford, Eddie Mullens (trumpet); Juan Tizol (trombone, tambourine); Louis Blackburn, Lawrence Brown (trombone); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet); Aaron Bell (bass); Sam Woodyard (drums).
Count Basie Orchestra: Count Basie (piano); Marshal Royal (alto saxophone); Frank Wess (tenor saxophone, flute); Frank Foster, Budd Johnson (tenor saxophone); Charlie Fowlkes (baritone saxophone); Sonny Cohn, Lonnie Johnson, Thad Jones, Snooky Young (trumpet); Henry Coker, Quentin Jackson, Benny Powell (trombone); Freddie Green (guitar); Eddie Jones (bass); Sonny Payne (drums).
Producer: Teo Macero.
Reissue producer: Phil Schaap.
Recorded on July 6 & 7, 1961. Includes liner notes by George T. Simon, Stanley Dance, Aaron Bell and Phil Schaap.
Digitally remastered using 20-bit technology by Debra Parkinson (Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).
A battle of the bands? Not quite--more like a mutual admiration society, with the orchestras of both jazz titans playing together, with The Duke heard on the right of your stereo/headphones, The Count on the left. Ellington's elegance and unique voicings meet Basie's rollicking, blues-based Kansas City swing, and it works gloriously. There's no clutter, each band is focused and they sound great together. This is not the thoughtful, reflective composer side of Ellington (listeners should check out FAR EAST SUITE or BLACK, BROWN & BEIGE for that). The Duke and his band accentuate their swingin', dance-band side, and Basie and company have never sounded as suave and exotic as when playing Billy Strayhorn arrangements. Everyone has a good time, and that joy infuses this album from start to finish.