Such Sweet Thunder
Released: Jan 1957
In 1957, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn sat down and created these pieces based on the emotional narratives of various scenes and characters from William Shakespeare plays. Ellington always treated his star soloists like actors best suited to certain scenes, so this approach works beautifully. The only lasting standard from the album is "(Pretty Girl) The Star-Crossed Lovers" -- which is highlighted by a typically searing Johnny Hodges solo -- but the entire work is simply fantastic. The CD reissue adds over a dozen alternate takes and rarities.