Late period Ellington is not to be discounted in any way shape or form. Reprise is not rancid, there are a lot of great tracks. Tom, you're kicking it with ..And his Mother called him Bill, that is one of the best late period LPs. Listen to Lotus Blossom (track 9 on my CD), its just Duke playing as the band members file out of the studio and as he plays you can hear the emotion of his playing, he's lost his friend and collaborator and the track is the most gut wrenching on the album, the second is Blood Count. Strays wrote it as he was laying in the hospital. His white cell count is the Blood Count in the title. The thumping of the bass is drip of the of the hospital bag stuck in his arm. Hodges is almost crying playing this song. He'd worked with Strays on so many recordings both for Ellington and in their own aggregations. I easily put this in the top 10. But then...is that the Top Ten of all Ellington's LPs or just from the 60s? ha ha ha ha
I have personal attachments to Latin America Suite and New Orleans Suite and find it hard to rate one over the other. I will tell you that Rufus Jones' drumming propels the orchestra in many of these tracks, especially LAS. Latin American Suite needs a sticker on the cover, PLAY THIS RECORD LOUD, it rocks.
Milestones is correct, the 10 CD Box set of the Private Collection is missing from that list and is a necessary addition. SO MUCH music. I've had a copy for 10+ years and it seems like I am discovering something new all the time, something I've missed in the tracks, when listening before.
Jsngry makes a valid point about dividing up the pre-70 and post-70 period, if raw is what I think he means. Listen to Duke "final approved", Eastbourne Performance, that's a very thin recording, but then Duke was 6 months away from death. I don't have Afro Bossa or Afro-Eurasian, it's not that I don't like them, but when you've 200 plus Ellington and Ellington related albums, sometimes you prioritize.
Money Jungle is just that....MONEY , that is one very hip record. Never hesitate to drop a needle on Far East Suite, you'll be rewarded every damn time.
It is hard to say What's my favorite? The one I was just listening to earlier.