The Duke Elington Carnegie Hall Concerts, January 1943
Label: Fantasy Records
When Ellington debuted a three-movement, 47-minute suite at a 1943 Carnegie Hall concert instead of just playing his short-form hits, it was a statement that he was on par with the symphonists of his day. Race-blinkered critics didn't get it, and Ellington would later revise "Black, Brown and Beige" for a Columbia studio LP. But Ellington was right the first time. The other songs can be heard elsewhere, but the full, original "Black, Brown and Beige" -- standing with Scott Joplin's opera Treemonisha as an early masterpiece of jazz-classical hybridism -- can only be had here. Get into it.