Ellington Uptown

Ellington Uptown (also released as Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown) is an album by American pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington recorded for the Columbia label in 1951 & 1952.[1] The album was re-released on CD in 2004 with additional tracks recorded in 1947 and originally released as the Liberian Suite EP.

Ellington Uptown
Studio album by
RecordedDecember 7 & 11, 1951, February 29, June 30 & July 1, 1952
Bonus tracks December 24, 1947
Duke Ellington chronology
Masterpieces by Ellington
Ellington Uptown
Premiered by Ellington
Alternative Cover


The Allmusic review by Scott Yanow awarded the album 4½ stars and stated "Although some historians have characterized the early '50s as Duke Ellington's 'off period' (due to the defection of alto star Johnny Hodges), in reality, his 1951-1952 orchestra could hold its own against his best. This set has many classic moments... One of the great Duke Ellington sets".[2] Three factors stand out in the interpretation of Ellington's music on this album: Betty Roche's vocal on a multi movement version of "Take The 'A' Train," the addition of Louie Bellson on drums (Skin Deep), and the updating of old Ellington material that is made new and fresh.

The extended piece "A Tone Parallel to Harlem" (also known as "The Harlem Suite" or just "Harlem") has often been singled out as one of Ellington's great achievements. Ellington biographer John Edward Hasse writes, "This kaleidoscopic, marvelously descriptive tour of Harlem ... passes by folks working and shopping, fighting for equal rights, festively parading, mourning at a church funeral, and includes other honest, affirmative glimpses of everyday life. ... Harlem, with its three well-integrated themes, is regarded by a number of observers (including, reportedly, the composer himself) as Ellington's best extended work, and he chose to perform it fairly frequently at concerts. It has been called 'every bit as much a miniature masterpiece as is Rhapsody in Blue'."[3] Jazz critic and historian Ted Gioia notes that the work is among "Ellington's more visionary projects" and is "a masterpiece by almost any measure."[4]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[5]

Track listing

:All compositions by Duke Ellington except as indicated

  1. "Skin Deep" (Louis Bellson) - 6:49
  2. "The Mooche" (Ellington, Irving Mills) - 6:36
  3. "Take the "A" Train" (Billy Strayhorn) - 8:02
  4. "A Tone Parallel to Harlem (Harlem Suite)" - 13:48 Previously released on Ellington Uptown only
  5. "Perdido" (Juan Tizol) - 8:25
  6. "Controversial Suite Part 1: Before My Time" - 6:09 Previously released on Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown only
  7. "Controversial Suite Part 2: Later" - 4:14 Previously released on Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown only
  8. "The Liberian Suite: I Like the Sunrise" - 4:28 Bonus track on CD reissue
  9. "The Liberian Suite: Dance No. 1" - 4:50 Bonus track on CD reissue
  10. "The Liberian Suite: Dance No. 2" - 3:26 Bonus track on CD reissue
  11. "The Liberian Suite: Dance No. 3" - 3:45 Bonus track on CD reissue
  12. "The Liberian Suite: Dance No. 4" - 3:04 Bonus track on CD reissue
  13. "The Liberian Suite: Dance No. 5" - 5:08 Bonus track on CD reissue
  • Recorded in New York on December 24, 1947 (tracks 8-13), December 7, 1951 (track 4), December 11, 1951 (tracks 6 & 7), June 30, 1952 (track 3), July 1, 1952 (tracks 2 & 5) and in Fresno, California on February 29, 1952 (track 1)



  1. A Duke Ellington Panorama accessed May 24, 2010
  2. Yanow, S. Allmusic Review accessed May 24, 2010
  3. Hasse, John Edward, Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, Da Capo Press: New York, 1995, p. 323.
  4. Gioia, Ted, The History of Jazz, Oxford University Press: New York, 1997, pp. 97 and 194.
  5. Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 69. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
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