Duke Ellington did not begin his career as the proprietor of a big band. The group called the Washingtonians was a quintet when Ellington took it to New York in 1923, and it wasn't until he had been there a few years that it expanded to ten pieces and, eventually, 15 or more. Throughout his career, he returned to the small band, for recording purposes often designating sidemen as leaders. Thus were born such classics as "Day Dream," "Good Queen Bess," and "Subtle Slough." In these pieces from 1967 and 1970, Ellington was revisiting his long tradition of creating in smaller formats. Some of them, notably Billy Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues," would later be transformed for the orchestra. The sidemen are stalwarts of Ellingtonia.
with Cat Anderson, Lawrence Brown, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney, Rufus Jones, Wild Bill Davis, Paul Kondziela, Norris Turney, Joe Benjamin, Harold Ashby, and others