For Columbia Records Duke Ellington was so important back in the '50s previous posting that this album was released in the representative Masterworks series, actually reserved for intellectual classical and Broadway shows. In addition, this LP does away with the criticism, the early 50s would have been an unproductive phase for the Duke, every one of the dynamic tracks in concert length exposes this view as untenable.
The engine of the Duke Ellington band at that time was the young Louis Bellson, its revolutionary double-bass drum technique and his rare property to build positive percussion solos are particularly good in the first piece of the LP to hear the self-penned "Skin Deep", a showpiece of the audiophiles that time. Classics from the charts of the Dukes have been extensively re-rendered, the singer Betty Roche sends the "A-Train" on a journey to the land of bebop, "The Mooche" shifts the clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton and Russell Procope in the spotlight and Ellington's Boogie-Woogie Piano announces the start of a supercharged "Perdido" for the trumpeter Clark Terry. The highlight of the LP is a sharply drawn, probably unbeatable version of "A Tone Parallel To Harlem" in idiomatic swing that gives plenty of frequently emerging in pop concerts performances in 'symphonic' style far behind. Another argument for this LP is the superb sound quality that is owed to the best of Columbia's recording engineers.