Every so often throughout his career, Duke Ellington would enter the recording studio accompanied only by his rhythm section and proceed to reveal his innermost thoughts. Memories of rent parties during the Harlem Renaissance might flash past, or bittersweet reflections of dawn cracking through a hotel's curtains. The present collection, initially released shortly after Ellington's death in 1974, combines sessions from 1966 and 1970, and shows both the instrumental command and the emotional strength of Ellington the piano soloist. While for the most part this was not an opportunity to investigate ideas for orchestral creations, two versions are included of "The Shepherd," which became a major theme in the Second Sacred Concert.
with John Lamb, Sam Woodyard, Victor Gaskin, Paul Kondziela, Rufus Jones