In my restless, eager, and perhaps exorbitant pursuance of all things Ellingtonian
, I at times lament that much of Duke's early music was recorded on less than stellar equipment. The exquisite arrangements and virtuoso soling are muted, distorted, or improperly balanced--and not in stereo. Yet, the beauty speaks through it all, nonetheless--so my search continues.
Given my eschatology, I believe that the best of human culture--from every tongue, and tribe, and time--will somehow be conserved in The World to Come. I was convinced of his years ago when I read Richard Mouw's short but compelling book, When the Kings Come Marching In(now out in a second edition by Eerdmans). The chapter addressing "true beauty" in Truth Decay underscores this as well, for what it is worth.
If this is so, then, one glorious day, in the presence of the Triune God and all the redeemed (and I hope Duke is among them), we shall in some manner listen to the aesthetic apex of Duke's nonpareil orchestra form every period, whether badly recorded, well recorded, or not recorded at all. Surely the ears of heaven cannot forget such beauty--or hoard it.