The Blues! Played again and again. Rediscovered and reinvented again and again. The foundation of all different types and styles of popular music from 1890 to 2010! Although not always recognizable as such, and often labelled Blues although not adhering to the strict form, it has provided the basis for music by such diverse artists as Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton. It was obvious that the Duke, too, should devote a complete LP to this theme. But instead of inviting his whole orchestra into the studio, he only chose the rhythm group and Johnny Hodges, his star soloist on the tenor saxophone. In addition he asked Harry 'Sweets' Edison, who played muted trumpet in the Count Basie Band, to join them. Did they consult with one another? These musicians don’t need that sort of thing! Arrangements? What for? For the Blues? Absolutely unnecessary! It’s in our blood! Playing the Blues is outdated? No way! Just listen to our "Royal Garden Blues"! Modern Riffs in every single second! By the way: this latter number is the only true blues – strictly speaking – among these nine titles.
And there is something less well known to discover among the numbers recorded at the 1959 session: although he himself described his orchestra as his most important and best instrument, as a pianist the Duke proves to be an excellent accompanist in this small combo.
If you are eager for more, a few titles were recorded for the companion LP "Side By Side" (Verve MGVS-6109).