This music counts among Ellington’s most well-realized ‘concept projects’, all inspired by Shakespeare’s work and filled with memorable melodies and ample opportunities for solos by Cat Anderson, Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, and Quentin Jackson.

The Ellington-Strayhorn compositions treat their soloists like actors doing scenes and, in effect, playing parts, even quoting lines after a fashion — Clark Terry ‘plays’ “Puck” in “Up and Down, Up and Down (I Will Lead Them Up and Down)”, and Johnny Hodges turns in one of the most sensuous performances of his career for “Half the Fun,” from “Antony and Cleopatra”.