JSP's first volume of chronologically presented recordings from the dawn of Duke Ellington's career bears a title that epitomizes producer John Stedman's whimsical sensibilities by utilizing the name of young Edward Kennedy Ellington's piano teacher, Mrs. Marietta Clinkscales. Here upon four compact discs are 96 classic sides dating from 1924-1929, including most every instrumental by the original Washingtonians and the early Duke Ellington orchestras interspersed with vaudeville blues, pop tunes, and hot jazz numbers sung by Alberta Pryme, Florence Bristol, Alberta Jones, Ozie Ware (aka Ozie McPherson), Sonny Greer, Jimmy Harrison, Evelyn Preer, Adelaide Hall, Baby Cox, Irving Mills, and the Palmer Brothers. In addition to Duke's early mainstays it is exciting to note the transitory presence and sterling contributions of trumpeter Jabbo Smith, trombonist Charlie Irvis, reedman Don Redman, and guitarist Lonnie Johnson. Most reissue labels follow Ellington's discography back no earlier than 1927, the year during which Duke's orchestra really began to achieve its signature sound. Only a few (as for example EPM Musique's 1924-1926: Birth of a Band, Vol. 1) acknowledge and explore the early regions of the wonderful strata represented here and take the time to include the true rarities. While this JSP set is a thrilling slice of primal Duke there are gaps, as in two missing sides from November 1924 by a Washingtonians offshoot band calling itself the Deacons with vocals by Jo Trent and the aforementioned Sonny Greer. The omission of these titles is regrettable, especially "Oh, How I Love My Darling," which contains a magnificent lickety-split stride piano passage by the Duke. Nevertheless and on the level, as a straight shot of early Ellington and historic Harlem entertainment, this reasonably priced, action packed compilation is hard to beat and is emphatically recommended for anyone who wants to visit and commune with the spirit of Duke Ellington by absorbing most of his earliest recorded works.