Masterpieces by Ellington

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Masterpieces by Ellington
Masterpieces by Ellington.jpg
Studio album by Duke Ellington
Released 1951
Recorded December 18, 1950
Bonus tracks August 7 & December 11, 1951
Genre Jazz
Label Columbia
Duke Ellington chronology
Great Times
(1950)Great Times1950
Masterpieces by Ellington
Ellington Uptown
(1951)Ellington Uptown1951
Alternative Cover

Masterpieces by Ellington is an album by American pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington recorded for the Columbia label in 1950 as Ellington's first LP album.[1] The album was one of the earliest 12 inch LP's to take advantage of the extended time available and consisted of 4 tracks.

Release history[edit]

The original 1951 release under the "Columbia Masterworks" banner featured a red cover which was replaced by the more modern blue cover in 1956.[2] The album was re-released on CD in 2004 with additional bonus tracks recorded at later sessions.


Jazz critic Gary Giddins called the album "One of the first genuinely innovative 12-inch LPs".[3] He noted that "Ellington eschewed the suite format in favor of continuous long-form works that reflected a liberation made possible by the LP. The vividly languorous 15-minute "Mood Indigo" (on Masterpieces) exemplifies Ellington's new found freedom".[4]

The Allmusic review by Bruce Eder awarded the album 4½ stars and stated "For the first time in his recording career, Ellington was able to forego the three-minutes-and-change restrictions in running time of the 78-rpm disc — he and the band rose to the occasion". [5] The album features a full length version of Ellington's classic 'Mood Indigo'. No longer constrained by recording limitations, 'Mood Indigo' runs for over 15 minutes.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 4/5 stars[6]

Track listing[edit]

:All compositions by Duke Ellington except as indicated

  1. "Mood Indigo" (Ellington, Barney Bigard, Irving Mills) - 15:27
  2. "Sophisticated Lady" (Ellington, Mills, Mitchell Parish) - 11:29
  3. "The Tattooed Bride" - 11:43
  4. "Solitude" (Ellington, Mills, Eddie DeLange) - 8:26
  5. "Vagabonds" (Ellington, Juan Tizol, Johnny Burke) - 3:11 Bonus track on CD reissue
  6. "Smada" (Ellington, Billy Strayhorn) - 2:48 Bonus track on CD reissue
  7. "Rock Skippin' at the Blue Note" (Ellington, Strayhorn) - 2:27 Bonus track on CD reissue
  • Recorded in New York on December 18, 1950 (tracks 1-4) and August 7 (tracks 6 & 7), & December 11 (track 5), 1951.



  1. ^ A Duke Ellington Panorama accessed May 24, 2010
  2. ^ Neely, T., Goldmine Jazz Album Price Guide, 2004, p. 165
  3. ^ Giddins, G., Natural Selection: Gary Giddins on Comedy, Film, Music, And Books, 2006, p.229
  4. ^ Giddins, G. Ellington's Legacy, JazzTimes, March 2004
  5. ^ a b Eder, B. Allmusic Review accessed May 24, 2010
  6. ^ Swenson, J. (Editor) (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 69. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  7. ^ Liner notes - Columbia LP ML-4418, 1951