Duke Ellington – Swinging At His Best
Sound: C Extras: D Music: B-
Duke Ellington is a legend for good reason. Though many have heard Stevie Wonder’s huge
hit tribute song to him, the chart-topping Sir Duke, few these days have
had the pleasure of hearing the source of the inspiration. Passport continues their budget-line series
of older film material of major music artists with Duke Ellington – Swinging
At His Best, which features the following performances:
2) Flamingo (vocal
by Herb Jeffries)
Weather (as instrumental)
5) Blow By
11) Mood Indigo
12) The Hawk Talks
Some of the footage runs together from its original
source, suggesting this is from a filmed stage performance to be shown
theatrically, but the DVD does not identify the source. I like the optical printing as wipes go from
shot to shot in a way you will never see in any George Lucas Star Wars
film. The band’s performances are
exemplary, running the usual 40+ minutes as all these volumes do. Having now seen many such programs from
several companies, I can say the almost eccentric or even avant-garde way these
songs are put together put Ellington’s work in a class by itself.
The 1.33 X 1 full frame image shows its age, is dated, a
bit muddy and was all shot in black and white.
None of it looks like color footage copied monochrome. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is equally aged,
but you can still hear how good the music is.
With no extras on the DVD, that is still enough to recommend Duke
Ellington – Swinging At His Best.
- Nicholas Sheffo