The Complete 1932-1940 Bruns./Col./Master Rec. of Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (#248)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


The Complete 1932-1940 Bruns./Col./Master Rec. of Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (#248)
“He is a veritable poet of sounds and the range of his sensibility is astonishing” - Dan Morgenstern, Living With Jazz
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies

11 CDs -  $179.00


The Definitive Songs. The Definitive Orchestra. And Now...
The DEFINITIVE Limited Edition Box Set.

After achieving youthful acclaim in Washington, and making a successful move to New York fronting (at first) small jazz groups, Duke Ellington entered the 1930s with an expanded line-up and an increasingly creative approach to composing. Weekly radio broadcasts and swank guests in the audience spread the word; Hollywood noticed his marquee smile and musical brilliance; and the orchestra began touring extensively, including trips to Europe. His fame and popularity were on the rise.

But more importantly, Ellington entered the '30s having perfected his method of using the group to experiment with arranging and orchestrating. Ensconced at the Cotton Club in New York at the end of the previous decade, Duke Ellington catered to a lot of musical interests and needs - he played for the dancers, and for the jazz lovers. He relied on ideas from his musicians, and wrote for them as individuals rather than as anonymous section players. With all that work and a line-up of marvelous, distinctive musical voices, Ellington began the most creative period of his life.

"Sophisticated Lady." "Stormy Weather." "Solitude." "In a Sentimental Mood." "Echoes of Harlem." "Caravan." All of them and many more are a part of "The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia, and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra," an unprecedented limited edition box set that compiles these recordings for the first, and quite possibly the last time on 11 CDs. There would be many more exceptional compositions in the years following, including his highly regarded suites and longer works, but the scope of our latest, lavish Mosaic limited edition box set collection is the period when Ellington would establish himself as the most important composer ever in jazz.

Musicians Created Their Own Voices, and Interpreted His

"Jazz, if it means anything, means freedom of expression," he told writer Stanley Dance. And express himself is what he did, through the instruments of stalwarts and newcomers to the orchestra who not only created personality for Ellington's band - they were, in many instances, standard bearers in their own right for their respective instruments.

Barney Bigard on clarinet and tenor saxophone established links to the past with his New Orleans-style runs, executed with exceptional warmth. Harry Carney was the only important soloist on baritone saxophone for years, and the big bottom his instrument provided brought real gravity to the Duke Ellington sound. The great trumpeter Cootie Williams joined to replace the fallen Bubber Miley, quickly perfecting Miley's growl and mute techniques while creating his own sound with the open horn. He was a master of establishing mood and emotion. Lawrence Brown had a ringing tone on trombone, which complemented Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton's earthy growl and Juan Tizol's fat sound. Trumpeter Arthur Whetsel, saxophonist Otto Hardwick, and the inimitable Sonny Greer on drums were all associates from the earliest days in Washington. Ben Webster began perfecting his tenor saxophone style during a brief mid-'30s stint with the band before being offered a permanent position in 1940. Late in the decade, Duke Ellington discovered Jimmy Blanton, who would revolutionize bass playing with his terrific sense of swing and dead-on intonation before illness led to a tragically early death. And what can be said about Johnny Hodges, the silky smooth alto saxophonist who influenced generations of musicians? He was, in a line-up of superstars, a cut above all.

Duke Ellington made use of them all, for their personal styles as well as for his own unique voicings that placed trombones at the apex of their range and clarinets at the bottom, or by putting unusual notes in the baritone instead of giving the instrument the chord's dominant tone. His compositions, the unique personal style of his players, his innovative arrangements, and his confidence in his soloists to raise any composition to a new level, combined to provide him with a palette unequaled in music.

The Complete Box Set Collection

Our limited edition box set comprises a massive 11 CDs featuring well over 100 Ellington compositions. In addition to the above-named musicians, guest stars Bing Crosby, Ethel Waters and the Mills Brothers make notable appearances. Ellington's female vocalist Ivie Anderson proves she was tailor-made for the band along with other superb band-mates Freddie Jenkins and Wallace Jones on trumpet, Fred Guy on banjo and guitar, Wellman Braud, Billy Taylor and Hayes Alvis on bass, and the unique cornetist Rex Stewart.

The exclusive Mosaic booklet includes a complete discography of the dates, a revealing essay and track by track analysis by Steven Lasker, and a number of rarely seen photographs. We urge you to order these CDs early - like all Mosaic box sets, this edition is strictly limited, and given the importance of the music it contains, we're expecting significant interest.

Read More About DukeEllington:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Steven Lasker has been researching the music and life of Duke Ellington for a number of years. His great need for even the minutest of detail is apparent in both the liner notes and discography for this set. His passion for this music is honest and you will walk away from this set with a greater appreciation and knowledge of this outstanding music.

The source material for our latest Ellington set mainly comes from Steven Lasker who also transferred most of the material in this set and also did the restoration work which we feel is both clear and crisp. His collection of Ellingtonia is one of the most envied in the world. For this set of Columbia, Brunswick and Master recordings, Steven had every commercially issued side in mint or near mint shape, including rare test pressings of not only some of the issued sides but alternate takes, some previously unissued until now. If there was a side he needed in better shape to transfer we were able to take advantage of the metal mothers from the Sony Archives.

Photo Copyright © Protected
have collated, mostly from the Steven Lasker collection, a wide variety of rare session photos, cameos and publicity stills that enhances the listening experience of this monumental set. Some are previously unpublished and the rest are rarely seen images.

(Q) May 16, 1933

Brunswick 6600, which coupled Sophisticated Lady and Stormy Weather, was a huge hit and very possibly Brunswick's best-selling record by Ellington. Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler's Stormy Weather wasn't just the biggest song from the Twenty-Second Cotton Club Parade--it was probably the number one hit song of 1933. Edward Jablonski, in his biography Harold Arlen: Happy with the Blues, relates the story of how the song came to be written: "Early in the year Arlen and Koehler had all but tossed off a song at a party. Arlen had been thinking of Cab Calloway when he wrote it, had even opened it with what he calls 'a front shout.' Going from this three-note phrase, Arlen worked up the song, played it a few times. In about half an hour both he and Koehler had completed their respective ends of the collaboration. Relieved to have one more out of the way, they left to get a sandwich. Thus, simply and without fanfare, was created Stormy Weather. As it turned out, Calloway was not to appear in that edition of the Parade. Duke Ellington had been signed instead. As the song turned out, lyrically it was not tailored for a male singer anyway. Ethel Waters, the song writers believed, would be the perfect interpreter of the song. Brunswick released four versions of the song; Ellington made the only instrumental version. Ethel Waters also recorded the song for the label, backed by the Dorsey Brother's orchestra.

Sophisticated Lady: Ellington (intro); Brown; Bigard; Ellington; Hardwick.
Stormy Weather: Ellington (break); Whetsel; Williams; Brown; Carney; Bigard.


Click here to write a review

You could spend years listening to this set. The music, sound, and package are all superb. An overwhelming amount of great music. If I didnt have a dog to walk, Id just stay at home listening to this set.
  Dont hesitate- order this set
You will never find this material in better sound short of building your own collection of pristine 78s - and what will that cost? Like everything Duke ever recorded, this material is essential. I now have stuff in my collection that I should have had years ago, but didnt have the time or the money to chase. Superb - just buy it, youll love it madly!
  The Duke is Tops!
I have my reel tape collection of the Dukes recordings from 1923-1959 from the old Redmond Nostalgia Company out of Redmond, WA. They recorded the alternate takes, if any, right after the released take. So for some tunes you only hear one number. But for others you might hear two, three, four recordings of the same tune in sequence one right after another. And on sequential, analog order on reel tapes it can get pretty frustrating to listen to. On the Mosaic set the alternates are at the end of the cd. They can be accessed individually rather than sequentially. The Duke had the Greatest band EVER!! No if and or buts about that. Shame on this guy who said it was bad of Mosaic to release the alternate takes. Everything by the Duke is priceless. I have Mosaics Ellington small groups set of the 1930s, his wonderful Capitol records set of the 1950s and the really phenomenal Reprise set from the 1960s. All really great. And, by the way, Redmond Nostalgia Company is now Trophy Radio. And they have a lot of great broadcast recordings. They do not compete with Mosaic. Nobody can!!
  Too many alt or outtakes !!!
There is too much duplication on this set between alt takes, instrumental versions of vocal songs etc. Probably only six CDS net worth of material.
  Another Mosaic Home Run!
This Mosaic release is phenomenal. Extensive and loaded with incredible performances, this box set is an Ellington-lovers treasure trove from a period when he and the band were firing on all cylinders. The remastering is consistently top-notch and the booklet is very well researched and written. This is a must-have for any jazz library!
  Game changing sonics
Previous reviews have commented so well on the contents of this box set that I can't really add anything further but I do have a few things to say about the sound quality of this Stephen Lasker masterpiece of restoration. Before I came across this box set I had come to the conclusion that the only satisfactory way to listen to early ellington was on certain vinyl lp collections from 1960's to 70's that avoided reverb and preceeded digital noise reduction. Most cd's I had come across suffered from the compression required from cd and also from heavy use of noise reduction robbing the recordings of much of their verve and vitality. When I played this set however the sound quality trounced a lot of my vinyl equivalents digging out more detail and leaving the life and vitality of the original recordings. Unlike a lot of early music on cd the music sounds great on a relatively cheap cd setup such as on the car stereo but also astonishing good on a relatively high quality hifi setup. I used disc one as a test disc when auditioning a new cd player and found that a player with a slightly warm character copes best with these recordings. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that SL will get the opportunity to work on other Ellington recordings in the future, the late forties ones would be fantastic.
  Simply Beautiful!
This set is a prime example of why Mosaic is number one in the field of jazz output. The quality and process of transferring older recordings such as these are always going to be discussed and/or disputed. Processing? Surface noise? Sources? There will always be room for debate. But upon listening to these discs, this set contains the best transfers of classic early Ellington recordings that I have ever heard. The sound is crisp and bright throughout every disc, not muddled or dull. The music is simply beautifully alive. This is a set that should be a definite cannon in every jazz library.
  Outstanding in Every Way
The sound quality, the notes, the photos, the packaging, and of course the music are all fantastic on this set. I've waited a long time for this music to be released in this way. Thank you Mosaic and thank you Mr. Lasker. I know the matter of sound quality is very subjective, especially when it comes to 78-era recordings. Two-thirds of the music I listen to comes from this era. I've heard a lot of reissues over the years, from terrible re-channeled stereo LPs in the 1970s to muffled, over-processed CDs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since the mid-1990s I've considered Mr. Lasker's work to be among the best, and I think he did a great job on this set. Between the wonderfully detailed liner notes, the loan of most of the original source material, and the meticulous transfers, he must have put a tremendous amount of time into this, and it shows. Thanks again!
I wanted to wait to write a review until I fully digested this material. I now realize that this will be a lifetime project, there are so many joys, nuances, and subtleties to be absorbed. You will find new nuggets with each listening. While the Blanton-Webster band that followed is highly regarded, I find this material more exciting. The tracks fairly drip with discovery and innovation; I can almost hear the soloists thinking "Wow! Did I just play that?". It would take a booklet-length essay to begin to describe the pleasures here. The one accompanying this I feel is too collector-oriented, giving more history than musical analysis. The 150 pages devoted to Ellington in Gunther Schuller's "Swing Era" is a recommended adjunct. The sound quality is, as usual for mosaic, unbelievable! This isn't my most prized Ellington, not my most prized jazz set, it's my most prized possession. Now if Mosaic could only give us a proper-sounding Blanton-Webster Band...
  Wonderful Set - Bring more Duke sets, please
I have been enjoying this set for a few weeks now and still have not finished listening to all cds. Every one is a joy. So many great performances. The booklet is well done as well and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I see some hints of another Duke set from Mosaic and say bring it on. I have all of them so far and love every one
  Great report source
I have to do a report on him and i found this site. Other sights give you a bunch of ads that you have 2 print out to . This site gets right to the facts. BTw i got 100%
Stunning music in stunning sound. 1930s Duke (like 1920s, 40s, 50s, 60, and 70s Duke) is beyond category and beyond compare. Along with your Duke Small Group 1936-1940 set from 2006, this is going to be my main listening for many months to come. THANK YOU, MOSAIC! Duke fans, be looking for the novel "Riding on Duke's Train," to be published by Leapfrog Press in October, 2011.
  Mastepieces abound in this set
I figuratively kicked myself in the behind when the small group set came out in 2006; I went through all the trouble and expense of assembling a complete set of the French CBS "Complete Duke Ellington" series of double LPs that came out in the mid 70s-early 80s. Now I'm doing it again. Of course, I don't think anyone could have foreseen Mosaic reissuing this material. That aside, I'm working my way through the first disc as I write this, and from what I've heard so far, the re-mastering is excellent and the music has a livelier sound to it than on most previous reissues. And of course, there's the superb packaging - a 44-page booklet crammed with fully detailed notes by Steven Lasker and several rare or never before seen photographs. Get this while you can - that's about all else I can really say!
  Essential Ellingtonia...with added Ivie Anderson
Although the 1940s Ellington sides are more celebrated I have a super soft spot for this period in the Duke's catalogue. The fact that Mosaic have painstakingly assembled these sides for posterity and the set is flying off the shelves says it all. Add in the many sides featuring the peerless singing of the subtle, warm, and intuitively rhythmic Ivie Anderson and you have a no brainer. Ivie was Ellington's finest singer - and one of the best active in the 1930s. Like Billie Holiday, she could transform the most inconsequential ditty into a shining jewel.With superb remastering and a fine book, this is one of the finest Mosaic's in a while and deserves to sell out fast. Get it while you can!
  Remarkable Sound
I'm enjoying it now, excellent remastered!!!
  My mistake
In "wonderful, but not complete" I wrote that the 2 takes of "Blue Light" were not included. I now realize that they are included in "Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936-1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions." I apologize for the error!
  Wonderful, but not complete
I've been waiting for a collection like this ever since the early 60s when Columbia issued "The Ellington Era" lp sets. Therefore, although in general I am quite pleased with this effort, I am disappointed by the failure to include the 2 takes of "Blue Light." This is a serious flaw that MUST be corrected. Also, since Sony and BMG are now one company, why couldn't Mosaic have included the records Ellington made for RCA Victor in 1933-34?
  Well worth waiting for!
In many ways, this Ellington set is a return to form for Mosaic. Unlike the hideously overprocessed Louis Armstrong (and to a lesser extent, Artie Shaw) boxes, just enough surface noise has been retained throughout to allow for crisp upper frequency response. The result: an unbelievable sense of presence! Steven Lasker has done a magnificent job with his Duke 78s; these artifact-free restorations are some of the finest CEDARed shellac pressings I've ever heard. Lasker's text for the booklet (lush and lavish in the best Mosaic tradition) offers another welcome change. Instead of issuing track-by-track opinions on what listeners should find aesthetically laudable or damnable, Lasker takes a historian's view, providing new research and context in place of criticism... very refreshing. My only question: As good as Steven Lasker's 78s are, why didn't Mosaic go back to the extant metal parts, which generally provide the finest possible quality? Many of us have several key tracks via earlier Sony Music releases (Essence of Duke Ellington, The Duke, etc.) and they had that first-generation "metal part" sound. Hopefully future Mosaics will strike a balance between using metal whenever possible and "filling in" for corroded, damaged or missing masters with the best possible 78s. The 1932-40 period finds Ellington coping with a changing marketplace, while simultaneously stretching out in new and challenging creative directions. This band isn't just a warmup for the lauded Blanton-Webster edition, but has a personality and vitality all its own. Mosaic is to be commended for restoring and releasing its output in such painstaking fashion. (Here's hoping that Mosaic will follow up on this triumph with a "Complete Jimmie Lunceford" set!)
  Yes, Yes. It's fine. Just one problem......
Do another Ferguson box already! That way you can complete the incomplete Roulette box and we can finally get a decent stereo release of "Boy with Lots of Brass".
  The Best for the Best
This is a crown jewel for Mosaic. The music on this set ranks among the best ever recorded. Ellington's band was in a class of its own with its unique sounds and Ellington's masterful and breathtaking compositions and arrangements. The music from this period in Ellington's history is not always recognized for its greatest. I think that is largely due to these recordings lack of availability and the poor sound quality of the recordings that have been reissued. Mosaic has remedied all that. I have never heard this music sound better. Hearing details I've never heard before just drove home how great and important this music is. Regarding the notes, it would have been nice to have detailed analysis of the music, like in the sets with notes by Loren Schoenberg. However, the notes are informative and the listing of the soloist is a nice feature. Super, super job -- No one should hesitate to pick this set up!
  Counting the days
I've pre-ordered in november,so I'm anxious!!!!
  I haven't heard it yet as it is not released
The fact is, how can it be anything but wonderful! Of course everything Mosaic puts out is wonderful, thus I will purchase it without a thought! Gene Martin

The Complete 1932-1940 Bruns./Col./Master Rec. of Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (#248)
The Complete 1932-1940 Bruns./Col./Master Rec. of Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (#248)
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
11 CDs - $179.00

Customer Reviews:

"With superb remastering and a fine book, this is one of the finest Mosaic's in a while and deserves to sell out fast. Get it while you can!"
Read More Reviews »

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