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White Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Piano in the Foreground

  (Item #: ellinpiano_1905_1907) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • Two KILLER sides: Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • Ellington was inspired on this date and clearly playing his heart out - eleven of the twelve tracks were recorded in one session (at Radio Recorders right here in L.A.)
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage 360 stereo Columbia LP - this copy played well beyond our expectations, with Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus surfaces
  • "This 1961 trio recording, with his orchestra's rhythm section of drummer Sam Woodyard and Aaron Bell, clearly unveils the maestro's powerful touch, black-and-tan chords, and unstoppable swing, all often overshadowed in the work of his bigger bands." - Amazon
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White Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
At the Bal Masque

  (Item #: ellinbalma_1901_1908) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A stunning sounding Six-Eye Columbia pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Here are boatloads of the kind of Tubey Magical richness that make these vintage Columbia recordings the uniquely satisfying listening experience we know them to be
  • More superb sound from the legendary CBS 30th street studios in New York - the size and power of a jazz orchestra in glorious all ANALOG sound
  • "Ellington and his all-star orchestra manage to transform what could be a set of tired revival swing into superior dance music and swinging jazz... a surprise success."
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Super Hot Stamper

McCoy Tyner
Plays Ellington

  (Item #: tynerplays_1906_1908) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • With a lively and present piano, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding jazz records you've heard
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies (the ensemble being a piano trio with two percussionists, but it works!)
  • 4 stars: "An interesting project that works quite well... This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner's debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style."
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Ellington-Basie
The Count Meets the Duke

  (Item #: ellinfirst_1805_1906) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Two stunning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, both coming in just shy of our amazing sounding Shootout Winner
  • Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, and Tubey Magic by the boatload - this 30th Street recording from 1961 shows just how good Columbia's engineers were back then
  • Fairly quiet throughout - good luck finding a Six Eye Stereo pressing this nice on your own, they sure don't grow on trees
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... a very successful and surprisingly uncrowded encounter... Ellington and Basie both play piano (their interaction with each other is wonderful) and the arrangements allowed the stars from both bands to take turns soloing."
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Super Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Piano In The Background

  (Item #: ellinpiano_1902_1905) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This original Six Eye has a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full-bodied and warm, exactly the way you want your vintage analog to sound - the piano is surprisingly real here, solid and dynamic
  • Classic Records remastered the album in the 2000s, as has Speakers Corner, but if you think either one of those versions can hold a candle to the real thing from 1960, let us send you this record and disabuse you of that notion
  • 4 stars: "One of Ellington's rarer studio sessions... Ellington's solo abilities were always a bit underrated due to his brilliance in other areas, but this set shows just how modern he remained through the years as a player."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ella Fitzgerald
The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 2

  (Item #: fitzgsings_the_duke_1903_1906) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides!
  • Forget the originals - like so many of the early songbook pressings, they suffer from painfully hard and honky mastering EQ (and gritty sounding vinyl)
  • We know whereof we speak when it comes to early Ella records - we've played plenty of them and found that most just don't sound very good
  • "Duke's spectacular catalog dazzles, and his sprightly, lush textures are transfigured under Fitzgerald's warm-timbred voice and elegant, precise delivery... each tune as familiar as it is delightful to hear in this new context."
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White Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Duke's Big 4

  (Item #: ellindukes_1903_1908) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This is an exceptionally well recorded small group date, with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and a Double Plus (A++) side one
  • I don't know of any other Pablo recording of the Duke from this era that has such big, open, clear, solid sonics
  • Val Valentin did the engineering - as was often the case over the course of his long and storied career, he knocked this one out of the park
  • 4 1/2 stars: "One of Duke Ellington's finest small group sessions from his final decade was this frequently exciting quartet date with guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson ... Highly recommended."
See all of our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Ellington '66

  (Item #: ellinellin_1902_1907) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Insanely good shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout and the first copy to ever hit the site!
  • This Grammy award winning title features Ellington performing some of the biggest pop hits of the day: Red Roses For a Blue Lady, I Want to Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, and more
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Super Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Piano in the Foreground

  (Item #: ellinpiano_1905_1908) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Ellington was inspired on this date and clearly playing his heart out - eleven of the twelve tracks were recorded in one session (at Radio Recorders right here in L.A.)
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage 360 stereo Columbia LP - this copy played well beyond our expectations with Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus surfaces
  • "This 1961 trio recording, with his orchestra's rhythm section of drummer Sam Woodyard and Aaron Bell, clearly unveils the maestro's powerful touch, black-and-tan chords, and unstoppable swing, all often overshadowed in the work of his bigger bands." - Amazon
See all of our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Duke's Big 4

  (Item #: ellindukes_1903_1906) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This is an exceptionally well recorded small group date, with wonderful Double Plus (A++) sound throughout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • I don't know of any other Pablo recording of the Duke from this era that has such sound this big, open, clear and solid
  • Val Valentin did the engineering - as he often did over the course of his long and storied career, he knocked this one out of the park
  • 4 1/2 stars: "One of Duke Ellington's finest small group sessions from his final decade was this frequently exciting quartet date with guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson ... Highly recommended."
See all of our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington
The Great Reunion

  (Item #: armstgreat_1901_5_9) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With two excellent sides each rating a solid Double Plus (A++), this vintage stereo pressing was one of the better copies in our most recent shootout
  • Both sides are big, spacious and absolutely jumping out of the speakers, with rich, smooth sound
  • We remember the Classic pressing as being a very good sounding record but make no mistake, this is a GREAT sounding one
  • 4 1/2 stars: "One of the best things about this configuration is the sound of the Duke’s piano - an underrated pianist, he seldom recorded in such an intimate context."
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Super Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Indigos

  (Item #: ellinindig_1905) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, this early pressing has the magic of analog in its grooves
  • This Six Eye Stereo Columbia impressed us with its superbly well recorded big band jazz, in the romantic style Ellington had truly mastered
  • A lovely demonstration of just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be - no modern record can hold a candle to a pressing as good as this one
  • If you like your jazz ballads performed with deep feeling, by a road-tested group of virtuoso players, this record is going to be hard to beat
See all of our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1708_1904_1908) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • One of the better copies of this top quality recording to hit the site, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear brass and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • "... this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums."
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Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1803_1905-) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • This pressing boasts very respectable Hot Stamper sound from first note to last
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - on the best pressings, he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • "Recorded on Sinatra's birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums." - Amazon
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums as well as our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Duke Ellington
Ellington '66

  (Item #: ellinellin_1902_1) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • A superb sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • Both sides here are super clean, clear and present with a solid bottom end and plenty of energy
  • This Grammy award winning title features Ellington performing some of the biggest pop hits of the day: Red Roses For a Blue Lady, I Want to Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, and more
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Armstrong & Ellington - An Historic Recording Event (1961)

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: armsthisto_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Insanely good sound throughout with both sides rating a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++).

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you'll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

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Duke Ellington & Count Basie - The Count Meets the Duke

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinfirst_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, and rich Tubey Magic by the boatload - this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia's engineers were back then. Quiet throughout - good luck finding a Six Eye Stereo pressing this nice on your own, they sure don't grow on trees.

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Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges - Back to Back

A Classic Records Winner

  (Item #: ellinbackt_classic_records) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

As I recall this was one of the better sounding Classic titles from their Verve series, and the music is excellent. Finding a clean original is no mean feat as I'm sure you can imagine.

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Duke Ellington - Duke's Big 4

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: ellindukes_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

I don't know of any other Pablo recording of the Duke from this era that has such big, open, clear, solid sound. VAL VALENTIN did the engineering, and as he has so often over the course of his storied career, he knocked it out of the park.

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Duke Ellington - Ellington Indigos

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinindig_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This 6-Eye Stereo pressing blew us away with its superbly well recorded romantic big band jazz, of which Ellington was a master. Both sides of this pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. This is absolutely the right sound for this music. A near-perfect demonstration of just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be - no modern record can hold a candle to a pressing as good as this one. If you like your jazz ballads performed with deep feeling, by a road-tested group of virtuoso players, this record is for you.

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Duke Ellington - Interpretations of Peer Gynt & more

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: ellinselec_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

One of Ellington's most enjoyable classic collaborations with Billy Strayhorn.

A++, huge, so big it really fills the room from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Not many records can do that. Clear and hi-rez. It could use more richness -- that alone would earn it another plus.

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Duke Ellington - Masterpieces By Ellington

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinmaste_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

We've known about this wonderful album for decades, since first got hold of a red label copy from the '70s. Although not in the league with the best 6 eye pressings, even that late reissue had enough Columbia magic left in its grooves to impress the hell out of me.

And the fact that a jazz album recorded in 1950 was still in print more than twenty years later is testament to the lasting power of Ellington's music. As Kenny Burrell would say, "Ellington Is Forever."

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Duke Ellington - Newport Jazz Festival 1958

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ellinnewpo_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

If you are a fan, this record will be a thrill. If you’re unfamiliar with the Duke's music, I can't imagine a better introduction than this.

This LP also includes Gerry Mulligan's only performance with the Ellington band. Paul Gonsalves's saxophone performance is superb and worth the price of the album alone. The clarinet parts on Princess Blue are out of this world -- Ellington at his best!

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Duke Ellington - The Ellington Suites

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: ellinellin_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

  • An A++ side one, an A+++ side two and quiet vinyl throughout make this copy an Ellington LP that is sure to impress! Side one of this album features a piece called "The Queen's Suite" that was recorded in 1959. On this A++ side, you get stunningly Tubey Magical late '50s jazz sound -- something that's almost impossible to come by on any recording made after that.

    1976 Grammy Award Winner for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band.

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  • Duke Ellington - The Nutcracker Suite

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: ellinnutcr_2015) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    This Columbia Six-Eye Stereo pressing has an A+++ side one backed by a very good side two! This is a WONDERFUL album featuring Duke and his orchestra doing a jazzy interpretation of the famous Nutcracker Suite, and on a copy like this the sound is SUPERB! We pulled together enough copies to have a big shootout for this album and this copy took home top honors for side one.

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    Duke Ellington - Up In Duke's Workshop

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: ellinupind_2017) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    The notes for this shootout winning side one read: "lively, big, present, with great bass" and that's the way we like our Big Band to sound!

    The first track on side two is not quite up to the standard set by some of the other pieces here but by track two or three all is well sound-wise.

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    Duke Ellington - Yale Concert

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: ellinyalec_2018) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    There is some interesting mic placement going on with this recording. Some of the instruments seem to be off-mic, creating an unusual effect that has its charms.

    Only one song was actually recorded live, Boola Boola. The rest of the material was taped in the studio and an audience dubbed in.

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    Duke Ellington and Ray Brown - This One’s For Blanton

    Our Shootout Winner from 2006

      (Item #: ellinthiso_2006) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    BIG BOLD SOUND. It has that up front live in your living room sound. It’s very dynamic and tubey magical.

    For this set of duets, pianist Duke Ellington is teamed up with bassist Ray Brown in performances a bit reminiscent of Duke’s work with Jimmy Blanton three decades before. In addition to the four-part Fragmented Suite for Piano and Bass, the duo plays five standards (including Pitter Panther Patter from the Blanton days and three other Ellington-associated tunes). Delightful and often-playful music. - AMG

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    Ella Fitzgerald - Ella At Duke's Place

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: fitzgella_at_dukes_2016) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    We have a very hard time doing the famous Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks due to the fact that so many pressings don't sound good, and the ones that do sound good are usually noisy.

    That's why it came as a pleasant surprise that Ella At Duke's Place had the potential for excellent sound and reasonably quiet vinyl on the best copies.

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    Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

    What to Listen For

      (Item #: sinatfranc_wtlf) 



    Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

    Notice that, at least for most of the material, and perhaps all of it, Sinatra does not seem to be stuck in a vocal booth. He sounds like he is actually standing on the same stage as Ellington's band.

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    Frank Sinatra / Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: sinatfranc_2014) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

    An amazing pressing of a superb recording, this White Hot Stamper really gets this music right!

    Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself.

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    Joe Pass - Portraits Of Duke Ellington

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: pass_portr_2017) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    Maybe it's the fact that there are only three instruments playing, live in the studio, that accounts for the amazing recording quality. Nobody knows, certainly not us, but the one thing we can say for sure is that you will have a very hard time finding a guitar trio album that sounds remotely as good as this one does.

    See all of our Joe Pass albums in stock


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    Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - The Great Reunion (1963)

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: armstgreat_2017) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

    With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original stereo copy simply could not be beat. So big, so rich, so Tubey Magical, we guarantee you have never heard Louis Armstrong sound remotely as good as he does here. We remember the Classic pressing as being a very good sounding record, but make no mistake, this is a GREAT sounding one.

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    The Recordings of Duke Ellington

    These Four Didn't Make the Grade

      (Item #: ellington_duke) 



    These are just some of the recordings by Duke Ellington that we've auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

    A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

    Duke Ellington Albums with Hot Stampers

    Duke Ellington Albums We've Reviewed



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