DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. When bandleader Duke Ellington was on tour, he had a habit of booking studio time to record new music. It was one of the perks of keeping an expensive band together. In Cologne on July 9, 1970, Ellington recorded two tunes engineered by Conny Plank. A few years before, Plank became known for recording such rock musicians as Brian Eno. That brief recording session is now on CD. And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's a window into Ellington's working method.
(SOUNDBITE OF DUKE ELLINGTON SONG, "ALERADO")