It's tempting for Blues in Orbit to be overlooked when Duke Ellington's best albums are discussed, but truly it's an undisputed gem. There are 14 tracks, none of them is longer than 4:50 and it is all good stuff. There are some familiar favorites such as "In a Mellotone" and "C Jam Blues" as well as less often heard gems like "Blues in Blueprint and "Sweet and Pungent." It is also in stereo, and the arrangements are superb. The featured performers include Ellington stalwarts Johnnie Hodges, Ray Nance, Harry Carney and Jimmy Hamilton, as well as the less familiar Booty Wood and Matthew Gee. Johnnie, in particular is well showcased here, taking the lead not only in slow pieces like "Brown Penny" and "Sentimental Lady", but also in the rousing, "Smada."