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Duke Ellington - Masterpieces By Ellington



Analogue Productions



Product No.:
AAPJ 4418
UPC: 753088441813
In Stock

180 Gram Vinyl Record

180 Gram LP  
(Not Eligible for Additional Discount)


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Also available on:
Hybrid Mono SACD
45 RPM Vinyl Record

A historic record - recorded just four years removed from the dawn of the analog tape era!

Remastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound from the original analog tapes

Recorded on an Ampex 200, using 3M-111 magnetic tape running at 15 inches per second

Gatefold old-school "tip-on" on jacket by Stoughton Printing

Plated and pressed at Quality Record Pressings!

Named a 2015 Record To Die For by Stereophile magazine.

"Remastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound from the original analog tapes, the record was plated and pressed at Quality Record Pressings. The depth and space when those rich chromatic harmonies create a wide and well-defined soundscape, the timbre of the orchestra as a whole as well as individual instruments, and the thick, wooden sound of Wendell Marshall's bass are among the aural pleasures provided when you drop a needle on this platter; expect goose bumps." — Music = 5/5; Sonics = 4.5/5 - Jeff Wilson, The Absolute Sound, May-June 2015.

"I chose the CD reissue of this album as one of my R2D4s for 2012, but now from Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions comes this QRP LP, and it's an occasion for popping corks. Released in 1950, this was Ellington's first LP, and he used the new medium to stretch out four of his biggest hits. The arrangements are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the sound just slightly less so. Recorded by Fred Plaut, who later miked Kind of Blue and other Columbia classics, it has the dynamics, depth, and in-your-face tonal realism of a modern (mono) audiophile thumper. Among the best jazz albums ever. How about a 45rpm pressing, Chad?" — Fred Kaplan, for Stereophile - "Records To Die For" - February 2015.

"Among the first recordings arranged and produced to take advantage of the LP's longer playing time, this album was released in 1950 on Columbia Records' classical imprint, Masterworks, with a whimsical cover by Stan Fraydas (author of Hoppy, the Curious Kangaroo) that's reproduced for this edition. (Columbia soon replaced it with an image more "modern" and more mundane.)... Freed from the 78rpm single's three-minute constraint, Ellington could score and record concert-length arrangements similar to those enjoyed by his concert audiences. Three of the four selections, including 'Mood Indigo' and 'Sophisticated Lady,' are familiar Ellington classics stretched and elasticized to luxurious effect. The harmonically saturated, transparent mono sound is astonishing for any era of recording. It's sure to leave you swooning, and wondering how and why recorded sound has since gone so far south." — Michael Fremer, for Stereophile - "Records To Die For" - February 2015.

"I have recently been obsessed with Masterpieces by Ellington, one of the best records I have ever heard in terms of music and production. I can now see Ellington in full technicolor glory!" — Colleen ‘Cosmo' Murphy, Classic Album Sundays

"Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions, in conjunction with Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound mastering studio have produced an LP that equals and in some way exceeds the sound of a pristine original pressing properly equalized. The perfectly quiet vinyl and exemplary packaging add up to one of the best reissues of the century." Recording = 10/10; Music = 10/10 - Dennis D. Davis, Hi-Fi +, Issue 120

"This new re-issue slays my vintage copy in every way. Every dimension of the recording was much better...dynamics, harmonics, frequency response, detail, jump...all just leaped out at me! The recording sounded like it had been made that morning...absolutely fresh-sounding. No veiling. No roll-off. In fact, it's so good that it doesn't matter that this is a mono recording! Listen to it on a great'll hear mono that fools you into thinking that it's not mono. Just wait until you hear Yvonne Lanauze sing, "Mood Indigo" amigos, after a long instrumental build-up...she'll take you there! ... The pressing itself was impeccable: flat, and free of noise, tics and pops...a genuine masterpiece of the pressing-plant arts. The Hyperion OCL, the finest cartridge that I've ever heard, revealed how superbly these grooves were carved! Commendable, reference-grade analog...very, very close to master tape sound. Very damned close! Kissing cousins close! Hell, maybe even closer than that. In fact, I now consider the Analogue Productions re-issue of Masterpieces by Ellington to be one of the very finest Jazz records ever released. (Sorry Miles! Move over, Kind of Blue!)." — David W. Robinson, editor-in-chief, Positive Feedback Online.

"Most highly recommended (the record is now on the QRP presses). It's one of my 'Records to Die For' in the February 2015 Stereophile. You won't have to die to get a copy. $30 will do and it's well worth the money. A true classic both musically and sonically and a historical work of art you can now own." — Music = 11/11; Sound = 11/11 — Michael Fremer, Read the whole review here.

"The best album ever made by Duke Ellington, which is to say, one of the best albums in jazz — is also one of his least known. ... now, a leading audiophile record label, Analogue Productions of Salina, Kansas, has brought it out on pristine vinyl (it’s also, despite its vintage, one of the best-sounding jazz albums ever), and the time has come to take notice. ...  the new, remastered Analogue Productions LP, which is to the CD as a high-def television is to a circa-1980 Trinitron. Played on a good sound system, it’s a sonic time machine, hurling you into Columbia’s 30th Street Studio with the Ellington orchestra. Horns sound brassy, drums smack, cymbals sizzle, you hear the air pass through the woodwinds. When saxophones play in harmony, the overtones bloom like a sonic bouquet; when the musicians take a quarter-note pause, you hear them breathe in." — Fred Kaplan, Slate, Dec. 9, 2014 Read the whole review here.

Masterpieces By Ellington shines from an astonishingly brief period of history that gave the recording industry two of its greatest achievements — the introduction of magnetic tape recording and the 33 1/3 LP, or long-playing record.

Four years. That's all it took to go from the discovery by Americans, of German advancements in the field of sound recording, to the marketing of tape decks in the U.S. by the Ampex company, to Columbia's unveiling of its 12” LP, and the first long-playing record to be sold to consumers.

The four selections contained here catapulted the Maestro Ellington into the LP era, as the great composer/arranger/pianist and his matchless orchestra took full advantage of the possibilities afforded by magnetic tape recording and the still-new 33 1/3 RPM LP to, for the first time, capture uncut concert arrangements of their signature songs.

Duke was joined for this album by a virtuoso supporting cast: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn (piano). Russell Procope, Paul Gonzalves, Johnnie Hodges, Jimmy Hamilton (saxophone). Nelson Williams, Andrew Ford, Harold Baker, Ray Nance, William Anderson (trumpet). Quentin Jackson, Lawrence Brown, Tyree Glenn (trombone). Mercer Ellington (horn). Sonny Greer (drums). Wendell Marshall (bass). Yvonne Lanauze (vocals).

This album wouldn't have been possible without a chain of events starting at the end of World War II. Recorded in December 1950, just five years after Germany fell to the Allies, revealing the Germans' advances in magnetic tape recording, Ellington's master work holds its wonder still today and the recording quality hands-down betters the sound of many modern-day albums.

1944-45: Magnetic tape for sound recording spread to America after an American soldier, Jack Mullin, serving with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the final months of WW II, received two suitcased-sized AEG 'Magnetophon' high-fidelity recorders and 50 reels of Farben recording tape that had fallen into American hands via the capture of a German radio station at Bad Nauheim. German engineers had perfected the technique of using Alternating Current bias — the addition of an inaudible high-fequency signal (from 40 to 150kHz) — to improve the sound quality of most audio recordings by reducing distortion and noise.

1947: Mullin became an American pioneer in the field of magnetic tape sound recording, after working to modify and improve the machines. He gave two demonstrations of the recorders at Radio Center in Hollywood in October 1947. A later demonstration for singer/entertainer Bing Crosby led to the use of magnetic tape for recording Crosby's radio programs. Crosby became the first star to use tape to pre-record radio broadcasts.

1948: Crosby invested $50,000 in local electronics firm, Ampex, and the tiny six-man concern soon became the world leader in the development of tape recording. Ampex revolutionized the radio and recording industry with its famous Model 200 tape deck, developed directly from Mullin's modified Magnetophones. Units marked serial No. 1 and 2 were delivered in April 1948 in time to record and edit the 27th Bing Crosby show of the 1947-48 season. A 200A at the time retailed for $4,000 — nearly as much as a standard single-family home.

Crosby gave one of the first production tape decks to musician Les Paul, which led to Paul's invention of multitrack recording. The first production model 200A recorders are delivered to ABC and placed in service across the country. This marked the first widespread professional use of magnetic tape recording. Working with Mullin, Ampex rapidly developed 2-track stereo and then 3-track recorders. Mullin and Ampex developed a working monochrome videotape recorder by 1956.

Here's where it gets really interesting, as The Duke and history made matchless audiophile magic. In 1950, two years into the LP era and the transition from disc to magnetic tape recording, Columbia Records got Duke Ellington and his orchestra into the studio to cut a long-playing record. The Columbia 30th Street Studio opened in 1949 and Masterpieces was one of the first recordings done in the studio!

June 1948: Vinyl LPs had taken over as the standard for pressing records by the 1940s; in 1948 Columbia Records introduced its 12-inch Microgroove LP or Long Play record, which could hold at least 20 minutes per side. The first classical long-playing record, and the first 12" LP of any kind— catalog no. Columbia Masterworks Set ML 4001— was Mendelssohn's Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64, played by violinist Nathan Milstein with the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, conducted by Bruno Walter.

December 19, 1950. Masterpieces by Ellington recorded at Columbia's 30th Street Studio. Released in 1951. Recording engineers Fred Plaut and Harold Chapman. Recorded on an Ampex 200, using 3M-111 magnetic tape running at 15 inches per second. (3M-111 tape was also introduced in 1948, the year the Model 200 debuted).

The Columbia 30th Street Studio (CBS 30th Street Studio) nicknamed "The Church" was considered by some to be the best-sounding room in its time and others consider it to have been the greatest recording studio in history. Numerous recordings were made there in all genres, including Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959), Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (Original Cast recording, 1957), Percy Faith's Theme from a Summer Place (1960) and Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979). The facility included both Columbia's "Studio C" and "Studio D."

See historical photos from the heyday of the Columbia 30th Street Studio here.

Columbia Records transformed the former church (the Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church, dedicated in 1875) into a recording studio in 1949. The studio had 100-foot high ceilings, a 100-foot floorspace to record, and the control room was on the second floor — a tight fit at 8x14 feet. It was later moved to the ground floor.

Suddenly, for the first time in his career, Ellington was able to forgo the 3 minutes-and-change restrictions afforded by the short running time of the 78 RPM disc. He and his band rose to the occasion with extended (11-minute plus) 'uncut concert arrangements' of three of his signature songs — “Mood Indigo,” “Sophisticated Lady,” with evocative vocals by Yvonne Lanauze, as well as “Solitude.” Masterpieces was also notable for the debut of the full-bodied, surprise-laden “The Tattooed Bride,” and for the swansongs of three Ellintonian giants of longstanding: drummer Sonny Greer, trombonist Lawrence Brown and alto saxist Johnny Hodges (the latter two would eventually return to the fold).

Masterpieces is a revelation and a throwback to a golden recording age. So much history and so much luck combined make this album truly special.

"Even in this august company, 'The Tattooed Bride' is a swinging virtuoso piece that, as everyone present must have known, couldn't possibly have been captured in this manner in any era before this session — this was also one of the last sessions to feature the classic Ellington lineup with Johnny Hodges, Lawrence Brown, and Sonny Greer, before their exodus altered the band's sound, and so it's a doubly precious piece (as is the whole album), among the last written specifically for this lineup." —



Ratings from Michael Fremer @

1. Mood Indigo
2. Sophisticated Lady
3. The Tattooed Bride
4. Solitude

Customer Reviews (4.84 Stars) 25 person(s) rated this product.

My Favorite Album

posted on 01/13/2023
5 Stars
Reviewer: Charles Huguley
My daughter recently gifted me a turntable. Previously I had not purchased an LP since the advent of the CD. I decided to explore what is available in audiophile vinyl records, did some research and learned of Analogue Productions and Acoustic Sounds. "Masterpieces by Ellington" is my first purchase. I am amazed by both the music and the quality of the sound; it is currently my favorite recording in any format. I have already made two more orders from Acoustic Sounds and have a lengthy wish list.


posted on 03/01/2022
5 Stars
Reviewer: Eric Thoben
This LP is incredible! Sound Quality 10 Music 10. If I could only have one Duke Ellington record this would be it. The sound is awesome. This should be in everyone’s collection. Thanks to everyone at Acoustic Sounds for making this available!

Great but as good as they say? Not for me

posted on 01/03/2022
4 Stars
Great LP, great pressing. But the best sounding record in my collection? Seriously? It almost boggles my mind that so many people said that kind of thing. It's very good, don't get me wrong, but neither the music or the pressing is anywhere near I expected after reading these gushing reviews.

Even Better Than They Say

posted on 05/01/2021
5 Stars
Reviewer: Mark Cherrington
I read the reviews and the raves, and on some level I thought they all must be including the disclaimer Great "for this period of music and recording technology." But then I got the recording, and there is no disclaimer needed. This record sounds better than anything I can think of. The soloists, in particular, are absolutely palpable, and everything has an organic naturalness to it that has to be heard to be believed. Then there are the performances and arrangements, which are priceless. And the pressing is utterly silent. Acoustic Sounds knocked it out of the ballpark with this one.


posted on 08/02/2019
5 Stars
Reviewer: Anteo
I had a first bad copy that was strangely quite noisy but Acoustic Sounds kindly sent me a replacement and, OH BOY!, this one sounds simply fantastic. Transparent, immediate, so alive it seems they are here in my room. Absolutely sublime. Thanks so much!

A Time Machine

posted on 09/03/2015
5 Stars
Excellent quality sound. You can't go see Duke perform live today, but this album is very nearly as good as live. It's just like being there 65 years ago. A priceless experience.


posted on 08/29/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: DCBRN
A great album. This performance will pull you in and caress you with the sound of an era past. What a great study in music. The sound is as good as new, but is from 1951 in mono (of course) and the quality of music is truly a work of art. Such restraint and finesse. The performance speaks of rehearsal, but also there is improvisation so important to jazz. There are passages smooth and silky. There is punch. Classy and never over the top. Vocals fit the music, the musicianship speaks to a time when passion and not money/hype drove these gifted players. What a great window to a time past when the world turned slower (33 1/3). Ha.


posted on 07/02/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Jeff R
Yeah it's that good. Crazy good. I listen to a lot of music... They don't make em or record em like this any more. Buy it


posted on 05/29/2015
2 Stars
Reviewer: Jeff C - Australia
Mikey Fremer on Analogue Planet gave this 11 + 11 and raved about it. I have purchased other recommendations of his and he has been correct. However, I fail to hear why so many people are raving about this LP. Perhaps I "just don't get it" but I found the music boring and the sound/hifiness that ordinary that I did not make it through the 2nd side. I have lots of other old school music LPs that are waay more exciting than this. For example Sonny Rollins - Way Out West.

But like I said, perhaps I just don't get it right now.

Ellington's Masterpieces is a Masterpiece!

posted on 03/24/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Jonathan Tinn
The performances on this record are insanely good and the sonics are worthy of them. This is truly one of the best records I have ever heard. Analogue Productions has done justice to this wonderful title and it is a must add to every record collection.

My vote for release of the year!

Buy It

posted on 01/30/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Sheila
Masterpieces By Ellington will surely leave audiophiles both new and old speechless. The sound quality is impeccable, and would truly restore any cynics faith in vinyl. This pressing shines a very bright light on one of the least know, but best albums in Jazz. I'm beyond happy to have it in my collection.

Need more issues like this one.

posted on 01/29/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Dave.
A great reissue. I bought 2 in anticipation that I shall wear one out! I'm hoping that one day the full Master Tapes from the Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington recording of the The Great Summit Meeting will get the same treatment and pressed at Quality Pressings.........

A masterpiece.

posted on 01/17/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Arturo C.
The sound is incredibly good, the performance is perfect, the pressing is flawless, this is one more of Quality Pressing's masterpieces. Do yourself a favor, BUY IT!

Absoutely Sublime

posted on 01/11/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Al Webb
This is one of the ten best albums I have ever heard (period). I have a $250K audio system and have been in high end audio since 1973! I probably have 90% or more of the audiophile records and this is definitely in the TOP TEN (probably top five). This album has amazing immediacy, superb transparency, life-like timbre, probably the most natural acoustic bass weight/pitch I have heard on an album. Just listen to the brass (trumpet, trombone, saxophone), it has that real brassy, sonorous sound you hear in a live concert. This is the best rendition of the Duke playing his piano I have heard, to bad Rudy Van Gelder was never able to capture a piano like this. Chad, my friend, you and your production team have presented us with a GEM.


posted on 01/06/2015
5 Stars
Reviewer: Kevin
How a tape this old can be this good is beyond me. super great sound with a big dynamic range. Don't know how this could sound any better.. Killer music, great recording, top notch playing, all on a flat quiet disk... Buy two, you won't be sorry.

AP just dropped a Bomb!

posted on 12/27/2014
5 Stars
Reviewer: Wade Burrow
I can't believe my ears on this one. The Trumpet on "Sophisticated Lady" sounds like it is talking to you in your living room. The record is punchy, detailed, and life-like throughout the spin. I have a pretty diverse collection of Rock, Blues, and Jazz records. Vintage and New Presses. This is now my best sounding record. It is reference music not just for how good Vinyl can sound but how Mono can sound. I have played this for people and they are dumbfounded. "How can it be Mono" they say. Mono is King again with this record.

Crazy good

posted on 12/16/2014
5 Stars
Reviewer: JackG
I really have no other music like this, but this is simply a wonderful LP to own. The sonics are so luxurious and rich, you just kind of melt into the music. I've been avoiding sitting in the sweet spot recently, as I find I concentrate too much on imaging. Leaving out soundstage as a criterion I can really compare other attributes, and certain mono recordings come right to the fore in terms of timbre and tonality. This is at the very top. Almost inconceivable when you think of the age of the recording.

Amazing Sound and Pressing

posted on 12/16/2014
5 Stars
Reviewer: Tim Smith
I cannot believe a recording from 1950 can sound this good. The pressing is excellent. A must have for your vinyl collection.

So good..

posted on 12/11/2014
5 Stars
Reviewer: Caler
This pressing is insanely good.. No need to contemplate - just get it.

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